At a campaign rally in Dallas on Thursday night, President Trump praised the cease-fire that Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reached with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the same day.
“Sometimes you have to let them fight,” Trump told supporters at the American Airlines Center, referring to Turkish and Kurdish forces.
“Like two kids in a lot, then you pull them apart,” Trump said.
Trump went on to say that after Turkish and Kurdish forces “fought for a few days,” that “we went there and we said, ‘we want a pause.’”
Trump also referred to both sides as a “friend.” Turkey is a fellow NATO ally of the U.S., and the Kurdish forces known as the YPG were vital in the fight against ISIS.
“President Erdoğan was a gentleman, he understood,” Trump noted. “But without a little tough love … they would’ve never made this deal.”
The deal that was officially reached between the U.S. and Turkey creates a 120-hour, or five day, cease-fire. During this time, Kurdish forces are supposed to move out of Erdoğan’s desired “safe zone.” This is where he wants to relocate the estimated two million Syrian refugees who are in Turkey.
Trump said in return that he would lift the economic sanctions that he placed on Turkey earlier in the week.
Trump also promised to recapture ISIS operatives and their families who reportedly escaped during the fighting between Turkey and the Kurds.
“We’re going to keep ISIS all nice and locked up,” Trump said. “We’re going to find more of them.”
“Turkey’s going to be happy, the Kurds are going to be happy, ISIS is going to be unhappy,” he added.
The president’s comments came after top congressional Democrats criticized him earlier Thursday for the ceasefire.
In a joint statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Trump was “flailing” and called the truce a “sham ceasefire.”
“The President’s decision to reverse sanctions against Turkey for brutally attacking our Kurdish partners in exchange for a sham ceasefire seriously undermines the credibility of America’s foreign policy and sends a dangerous message to our allies and adversaries alike that our word cannot be trusted,” Pelosi and Schumer added.