Un­der fire, Trump de­fends Syria pol­icy

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - News - 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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