Trump tries to defend his stance on Kurds amid growing criticism

President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE on Thursday offered yet another defense for his decision to relocate Americans troops from northern Syria as he faces a groundswell of criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike that the move opened the door to a Turkish offensive that threatens the U.S.-allied Kurds.

"Turkey has been planning to attack the Kurds for a long time. They have been fighting forever. We have no soldiers or Military anywhere near the attack area. I am trying to end the ENDLESS WARS," Trump tweeted.


The president laid out both sides of the argument, tweeting that some observers want to send additional troops to the area "and start a new war all over again" while others say "STAY OUT, let the Kurds fight their own battles (even with our financial help)."

"I say hit Turkey very hard financially & with sanctions if they don’t play by the rules! I am watching closely." Trump tweeted.

Trump has repeatedly said in recent days that he would punish Turkey if they cross certain lines, but he has not specified what those inappropriate actions would be.

The White House announced Sunday night that it would remove its troops from northern Syria. By Wednesday morning, Turkey had begun carrying out a military operation against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

The U.S. military relied on the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is led by the Kurds, as the local ground force fighting ISIS. But Ankara considers the Syrian Kurds terrorists who are an extension of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

Lawmakers have lined up to slam Trump's shift in strategy, arguing it will lay the foundation for a resurgence of ISIS and lead to a potential slaughter of Kurdish forces. Several of Trump's most ardent GOP allies — including Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Apple reportedly dropped plans to let iPhone users encrypt backups | Justices decline facial recognition case | Critics fear Facebook losing misinformation fight | Truce on French tech tax MORE (R-Wyo.) — have been among the most outspoken critics of the move.

Trump said in a statement Wednesday that the Turkish offensive is a "bad idea," but he has remained committed to the idea of getting the U.S. out of what he describes as "endless wars." His rhetoric in recent days has grown increasingly dispassionate about the potential consequences, even as Republicans urge him to reconsider.

Asked Wednesday whether he was concerned that ISIS prisoner escapees might surface elsewhere, Trump downplayed the idea by saying they would go to Europe.

Trump has repeatedly highlighted that the Kurds and Turkey have a long history of conflict, and he suggested Wednesday that the Kurds were only allied with the U.S. because it was in their interest.

"As somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today, they didn’t help us in the second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy as an example," Trump said. "They mentioned names of different battles. But they’re there to help us with their land and that’s a different thing.”