President Donald Trump on Monday defended his administration’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops out of northern Syria and warned Turkey that he will “totally destroy and obliterate” if it engages in activities deemed “off limits” in the war-torn country.
“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” Trump tweeted.
On Sunday, the White House announced it will pull U.S troops out of northern Syria ahead of a Turkish military advance to expel Kurdish forces from the area.
In a statement after a telephone call between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House stated it would neither support nor interfere with the operation.
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” read the statement. “The United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
The move drew criticism from Republicans, including Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who suggested the move would have dire consequences for the Kurds.
“The President’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal. It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster,” Romney tweeted.
“I don’t know all the details regarding President Trump’s decision in northern Syria. In process of setting up phone call with Secretary Pompeo. If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making,” said Graham.
Nonetheless, President Trump dismissed critics of his decision, stating it is time for the U.S. to halt fighting “ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”
“WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN,” he vowed.