President Trump Wednesday said Turkey is keeping ISIS in check and the ceasefire with the Kurds is “holding very well.”
In an Oval Office meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, Trump thanked Turkey for the job they are doing at the border and said the Kurds seem “very satisfied.”
“Turkey is watching the ISIS fighters,” Trump said, noting the recent US killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and how his replacement is on the run.
“Turkey recently has captured over 100 ISIS fighters,” Trump said.
Trump bemoaned the widespread criticism from “all the pundits” about his decision to pull US troops from the Syrian border area that protected Kurdish allies from attacks from Turkish forces.
He claimed that public opinion is now on his side in light of a ceasefire agreement.
“Now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Wow, that’s, wow, that’s working really well,’” Trump said as impeachment hearings were underway in the House.
Trump said “the ceasefire is holding very well. We’ve been speaking to the Kurds and they seem very satisfied.”
The president said the US has only left US troops behind to protect oil supplies.
“We’re keeping the oil. We have the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil,” Trump said.
He added: “We have our troops out of there. And we’ll be bringing a lot of them back home. But again, we’ll be keeping the oil.”
Lawmakers on the Hill, led by New York Rep. Eliot Engel, have wanted Trump to rescind his invitation to Erdoğan over his bloody campaign in Syria.
“President Erdoğan’s decision to invade northern Syria on October 9 has had disastrous consequences for U.S. national security, has led to deep divisions in the NATO alliance, and caused a humanitarian crisis on the ground. Turkish forces have killed civilians and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a critical U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS, and displaced over one hundred thousand people from their homes in northern Syria,” Engel and others penned in an earlier letter.
But on Wednesday Trump touted his close relationship with Erdoğan and predicted an expanded trade relationship.
“The president and I have been very good friends, we’ve been friends for a long time — almost from day one,” Trump said. “And we understand each others’ countries, new understand where we’re coming from.”
He added: “I understand the problems that they’ve had — including many people from Turkey being killed, in the area that we’re talking about. And he has to do something about that also. It’s not a one-way street.”
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