Trump justifies allowing Turkey to invade Syria after torrent of criticism by claiming Erdogan has ‘helped me save many lives’

‘In no way have we abandoned the Kurds,’ president claims after withdrawal announcement

Zamira Rahim
Tuesday 08 October 2019 14:37 BST
Thousands of people in Syria gather to protest against possible Turkish military incursion

Donald Trump has attempted to justify allowing Turkey to invade Syria, by claiming the country helped the US save “many lives” in Idlib.

The president also stressed Turkey’s value to Washington as a trading partner and said Recep Tayyip Erdogan would visit the US on 13 November.

Simultaneously he denied abandoning the US’ Kurdish allies to the invasion.

“So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet,” he said on Twitter.

His posts come after the US suspended Turkey from the F-35 jet program in July, which halted industrial production of jet parts in the country. The decision to suspend was made after Ankara accepted delivery of a Russian missile defence system.

Mr Trump also said Turkey had “been good to deal with, helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province.”

His decision to withdraw US troops from north-east Syria was met with a barrage of criticism on Sunday, from both Republicans and Democrats in Washington.

The withdrawal allows a planned Turkish military operation to proceed against Kurdish fighters in the region. Ankara has long viewed Kurdish aspirations for autonomy in northeast Syria as a major threat to its security.

Several politicians, including Trump allies such as Lindsey Graham, expressed alarm at the surprise decision. Mr Graham described the decision as “a disaster in the making.”

The policy signals an abandonment by Washington of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The SDF has been a crucial ally for the US in the fight against Isis. The force lost around 11,000 fighters by the time the last piece of Isis territory was liberated in March.

A spokesperson for the group said fighters had been “stabbed in the back” by the US.

“We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters,” Mr Trump claimed.

“Likewise our relationship with Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good.”

The president’s tweets appear to be a warning to Turkey.

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“Any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency,” he said on Twitter.

”We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons!”

A potential conflict between the SDF and Turkey would likely destabilise a region that has been relatively calm in the past few years.

The SDF has warned that a Turkish attack would create a new refugee crisis in the region, and threaten the security of prisons holding thousands of Isis fighters.

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