Pompeo: Trump 'fully prepared' to use military force if necessary

Pompeo: Trump 'fully prepared' to use military force if necessary
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE “is fully prepared” to use military force should it be “needed,” Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats warn State Dept against punishing individuals who testify in impeachment hearings Pompeo condemns 'deplorable' killings of Iraqi protesters MORE said Monday when asked about Turkey's invasion of Syria.

CNBC's Wilfred Frost in an interview with Pompeo addressed the recent U.S.-brokered cease-fire in Syria that Ankara had agreed to last week. The journalist asked Pompeo what might warrant a military response.

"Where we see American interests at stake or fundamental norms around the world that need to be enforced, we’ll use all the powers that we have," Pompeo told Frost on "Closing Bell." 

“We prefer peace to war. But in the event that kinetic action or military action is needed, you should know that President Trump is fully prepared to undertake that action,” he added.

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It wasn't clear that Pompeo was referring specifically to Turkey. Trump has faced widespread condemnation following his decision earlier this month to pull U.S. troops from northeast Syria, essentially giving Turkey the green light to launch an invasion against Syrian Kurdish fighters and civilians. The U.S. has counted on the Kurds as a vital partner in the fight against ISIS, though Turkey sees them as part of a terrorist arm known as the PKK.

More than 100 Syrian Kurdish civilians have been killed in the Turkish strikes, though Trump has insisted the U.S. bears no responsibility.

“We never agreed to protect the Kurds,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday. “We supported them for 3 ½, four years. We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives.”

He also said he doesn’t believe it will be necessary to leave U.S. troops in Syria except to secure oil fields.

Pompeo would not say what would warrant a military response from the U.S. but noted that “we’ve done it before,” a reference to when the Trump administration struck Syria government facilities in 2017 and 2018 after Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against civilians.

“We did it, and the world should know that we will continue to do that,” Pompeo said before adding that the administration would prefer to use economic or diplomatic means/

He added that did not want to “get out in front of the president’s decision about whether to take the awesome undertaking of using America’s military might.”

The administration last week announced it would impose sanctions on Turkey over its Syria incursion before announcing days later that it would not impose them after the NATO ally and Kurdish forces agreed to a five-day cease-fire. The 120 hours would allow the Kurdish fighters to evacuate a safe zone roughly 20 miles from the Turkey-Syria border.

The deal was quickly panned by lawmakers, including Republicans who regularly back Trump, who said it abandoned a U.S. partner with no repercussions for Turkey.

Pompeo, however, said he was “fully convinced that that work saved lives.”