President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria, saying the Kurds are “not angels,” and Turkey’s invasion is “not our problem.” “If Turkey goes into Syria, it is between Turkey and Syria. It’s not our problem,” he said during a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the White House. “The Kurds know how to fight. As I said, they are not angels.”
Trump brushed off Turkey’s invasion of Syria just as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plan to visit Turkey to urge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to end the conflict. Since the president authorized a withdrawal of troops from northeastern Syria last week, Turkish forces have bombed Kurdish civilians at least three times. Republicans have accused Trump of betraying the U.S. ally, which lost roughly 11,000 troops during the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS.
The president added it was “fine” for Russia to assist President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the ongoing conflict. “Syria may have some help with Russia and that’s fine. It’s a lot of sand,” Trump said.