President Trump defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and blasted critics who claim he gave the go-ahead to the Turkish president to attack the Kurds, who were American allies in the fight against the Islamic State.
Trump went so far as to say it was his administration that wiped out the ISIS caliphate in Syria.
“ISIS was all over the place … It was me…who captured them,” Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting Monday in the White House. “I’m the one who did the capturing. I’m the one who knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits.”
Trump has been criticized for telling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call earlier this month that he would pull US forces from northern Syria after Erdogan made it clear he was going to create a buffer zone in that region.
A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers raised concerns that the fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces might give cover to ISIS militants to escape and reconstitute the terror group.
Ankara views the Kurds, who have been fighting with US troops against ISIS since 2014, a terror organization aligned with an insurgent group inside Turkey.
“Plenty of Turks have been killed because of conflict on their borders. You have to look at both ways,” Trump said, adding that “we never gave a commitment to the Kurds.”
He also said the five-day ceasefire Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence negotiated with Erdogan last Thursday is “holding.”