Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Under fire, Trump defends Syria policy

- David Jackson and John Fritze

WASHINGTON – Facing criticism from fellow Republican­s as well as Democrats, President Donald Trump defended his withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria on Tuesday, saying he is not selling out Kurdish allies.

“We may be in the process of leaving Syria,” he said in a tweet, “but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters.”

Congressio­nal lawmakers said Trump’s move would allow Turkey to invade northern Syria and possibly crush U.S.-supported Kurds who helped combat Islamic State extremists. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., blasted the decision Tuesday as “morally repugnant” and said it “stains our nation’s reputation.”

Trump echoed a threat he made Monday to “destroy” Turkey’s economy if it tries to wipe out the Kurds. He also defended Turkey, calling it “a NATO and Trading partner” with which the United States has a “very good” relationsh­ip.

Trump indicated he plans to welcome Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for meetings next month in Washington.

Officials in Turkey dismissed Trump’s threats. Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said his country wants to create a zone to permit the resettleme­nt of Syrian refugees. “Where Turkey’s security is concerned,” he said, “we determine our own path, but we set our own limits.”

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