McConnell: 'I want to express my gratitude' to Kurds

McConnell: 'I want to express my gratitude' to Kurds
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders's momentum puts Democrats on edge House Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (R-Ky.) offered an unprompted defense of the Kurds on Wednesday, hours after President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvisor: Sanders could beat Trump in Texas Bloomberg rips Sanders over Castro comments What coronavirus teaches us for preventing the next big bio threat MORE said they “weren’t angels.”

McConnell began his weekly leadership press conference by speaking about the Kurds, noting that they were “great fighters” and had been an “extremely valuable alliance.”

“I want to express my gratitude to the Kurds,” he added.

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McConnell didn’t directly mention Trump during his initial remarks, but noted the situation in Syria was “very concerning.”
"I'm sorry that we are where we are. I hope the vice president and the Secretary of State can somehow repair the damage," McConnell said. 
 
McConnell added that Turkey was also a NATO ally, and that the United States shouldn't want to "completely fracture our relationship" or "further drive them into the arms of the Russians." 

Trump has sent mixed signals about his decision, slapping new sanctions on Turkey even as he's publicly distanced himself from the Kurdish fighters. 

During a White House meeting on Wednesday, Trump told reporters that the Kurds "were no angels." 

“They’re no angels. They’re no angels. Go back and take a look,” he said. 

The remark drew immediate backlash on Capitol Hill. 

“Oh my goodness gracious. Oh my goodness gracious. The Kurds are our friends and our allies,” said Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyPaul Ryan says he disagrees with Romney's impeachment vote Progressives hope Nevada offers roadmap for pro-union 2020 victory Texas woman sentenced for illegal voting faces deportation after parole MORE (R-Utah). 

The push back is the latest sign of disagreement between Republicans and Trump since the White House announced it was pulling U.S. troops out of northern Syria ahead of the Turkish military operation. 
 
The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Wednesday formally breaking with Trump's decision and urging Turkey to stop its military incursion. 
 
McConnell on Wednesday told reporters that he and most Republican senators thought Trump's decision was a "mistake."