President Donald Trump dismissed concerns that the US withdrawal from Syria has left American-allied Kurds abandoned against the Turkish military and that Russia has moved into the region to fill the void.
“Syria may have some help with Russia and that’s fine,” Trump said. “It’s a lot of sand.”
Trump also said the Kurds, who fought alongside American troops against IS and are now under attack from the Turkish military, are “no angels.” He added that the Kurds are well-protected and know how to fight.
Turkish forces invaded northern Syria after Trump announced the planned withdrawal of US troops. Since the invasion, the US has imposed economic sanctions against Turkey and called for a ceasefire, a proposal Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuffed.
Trump said sanctions are more effective than troops in maintaining stability in the region. Trump’s moves have brought bipartisan criticism from Congress. Republican Representative John Shimkus of Illinois has consistently backed the president, called the moves “despicable” and said the US has “stabbed our allies in the back.”