President Donald Trump used a segment of his campaign rally on Thursday night to defend his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria. His effort is underscoring the level of backlash he has received from members of both parties over the move.
The president argued during free-wheeling remarks in Minneapolis that the U.S. could “take a victory” by removing soldiers. His comments come despite a pushback for withdrawing troops ahead of a Turkish military offensive that has targeted U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.
“Turkey is right now waging a very tough campaign against the Kurds. We got along with the Kurds, we helped the Kurds and don’t forget, they’re also fighting for their land … but they’re fighting,” Trump said.
The president added that one option the U.S. had was to “bring our troops back home.”
“We don’t have any soldiers there because we left, we won, we left, take a victory United States,” he said. “Bring our troops back home.”
Trump would later in his speech talk about how long U.S. troops had been involved in military conflicts overseas.
“We were supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, we’ve now been there for 10 years. We were supposed to be in Afghanistan for a short period of time, we’re now going to be there for close to 19 years,” he said.
“It’s time to bring them home, we’ve done our job,” he added.
Aaron Rupar responded to Trump’s comments on Twitter saying: “Trump says, “Turkey is waging a tough campaign against the Kurds. We got along with the Kurds, we helped the Kurds” — but he then defends his move to pull out of northern Syria and enable the Turkish attack”
The Trump Administration announced late Sunday that Turkey would be “moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria” and that U.S. troops “will no longer be in the immediate area.”
Trump tweeted this week that the U.S. removed 50 troops from the region, relocating them to other outposts.
The Turkish military has since begun carrying out attacks against Kurdish forces. There have been dozens of casualties reported this week and thousands in Syria fleeing after the military campaign began.
Trump’s move was met with criticism from both sides of the aisle, lawmakers are saying it essentially paved the way for Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria that is targeting Syrian Kurdish forces who had been instrumental for years in the U.S. fight against terror.