President Trump, at a rally in Dallas on Thursday, likened the Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurds to a schoolyard fight.
“Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while,” before you separate the two sides, he said.
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Trump has faced bipartisan criticism over his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. On Thursday night, the president praised a cease-fire between Turkey and the Kurds, crediting his “unconventional” approach for enabling the truce.
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He spoke about the violence in northern Syria, saying it was like “two kids in a lot.”
“You’ve got to let them fight and then you pull them apart,” he said.
He called the fighting “nasty” and said it was not fun “having bullets going all over the place.”
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Trump has been criticized before for what opponents said was an effort to downplay the crisis for the Kurds. Earlier in the week, the president said Syria has “a lot of sand over there. So there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.” He said the Kurds, a U.S. ally credited for helping dismantle ISIS, were “no angels.”
The president has insisted that the move to withdraw troops will prove to be wise and praised the cease-fire as a “great day for civilization.”
“Everybody agreed to things that three days ago they would have never agreed to,” he told reporters. “That includes the Kurds. The Kurds are now much more inclined to do what has to be done. Turkey is much more inclined to do what has to be done.”
The White House on Wednesday released a letter in which Trump warned Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the sanctions could destroy his economy and that the world “will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”
Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, said he welcomed the cease-fire but wanted to know what America’s role in the region would be and why Turkey was facing no consequences for its invasion.
“Further, the cease-fire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally,” he said on the Senate floor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.