President Donald Trump said Kurdish fighters in northern Syria may have intentionally set some ISIS terrorist prisoners free as a political move against the United States.
“Very easy to recapture those people that probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” Trump said during an Oct. 16 press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the White House.
Trump said he moved more than two dozen U.S. troops away from northern Syria, as “they would have been in harms way” facing a military incursion long-planned by Turkey.
Turkey said it moved in to expel the Kurdish forces and establish an 18-mile “safe zone” in Syria along Turkeys southern border for resettling millions of Syrians that fled to Turkey to escape the Syrian civil war.
Ankara considers the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG), as affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a terrorist group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey. Previous reporting from the area suggests there is at least some overlap between the PKK and YPG.
Trump said the troop withdrawal wasnt a “green light” for Ankara to move in, pointing to his imposing sanctions on Turkey in response.
He stressed the United States has no interest in injecting itself militarily into a conflict between Turkey, a NATO member, and Syria, which is led by President Bashar al-Assad, who “is not our friend.”
“You have Syria and you have Turkey, theyre going to argue it out, maybe theyre going to fight it out, but our men arent going to get killed over it,” he said.
Kurds Are No Angels
The quasi-socialist YPG has been fighting the ISIS terrorist group in Syria with U.S. military support.
But the shared goal of fighting ISIS doesnt mean the Kurds dont have issues of their own, Trump suggested.
“I say this with great respect—theyre no angels. Take a look at PKK. ISIS respects PKK. You know why? Because theyre as tough or tougher than ISIS,” he said.
“Were making the Kurds look like theyre angels. We paid a lot of money to the Kurds. Tremendous amounts of money. Weve given them massive fortunes. And you know what? Its wonderful. They fought with us. But we paid a lot for them to fight with us.”
Upon the Turkish incursion, some ISIS prisoners escaped from detention in the Kurdish-controlled region, which Trump suggested was done intentionally.
“We were the ones that captured ISIS,” he said. “People let some go, they opened a couple of doors to make us look as bad as possible.”
The YPG-led coalition of Syrian forces stated that securing ISIS detention centers wasnt its priority amid the Turkish attack.
Since the attack, the Kurds said they had reached a deal with Assad, whom they have previously opposed, to help fend off the Turks. Assads forces have already moved into the northern region, The Associated Press reported on Oct. 14.
Others Can Kill ISIS
Trump dismissed worries about a possible ISIS resurgence due to the Turkish attack. He pointed out that other major forces in the regionRead More – Source