Trump says “not siding with anybody” over Syria pullout

WASHINGTON, US President Donald Trump said late Monday that he is “not siding with anybody” regarding his decision to pull out from Syria, saying “we’ve been in Syria for many years,” and that “Syria was supposed to be a short-term hit.” In remarks to reporters at the White House, Trump noted, “we were supposed to be in and out. That was many, many years ago. And we only have 50 (soldiers) in that area.

“I don’t want those 50 people hurt or killed or anything. I don’t want anything bad to happen to our people. And I told that to President Erdogan (of Turkey). I said: any of our people get hurt, big trouble,” Trump remarked.

He stressed, “I think there’s a lot of pressure on Turkey,” reiterating “right now, we’re at a position where, if Turkey does anything out of what they should be doing, we will hit them so hard on the economy.

“We only had 50 soldiers there. I don’t want them to be in a bad or compromising position,” he reiterated. “We want to bring our troops back home. It’s been many, many years.” Furthermore, Trump told reporters during a briefing with military leaders at the White House “we’re not fighting; we’re policing, to a large extent. We’re policing in certain areas.

“I’ve told President Erdogan, I hope he’s going to treat everybody with great respect. At some point, we have to bring our people back home. And that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Meanwhile, a senior administration official told reporters during a phone briefing that the US has made it “clear that if Turkey undertakes such an operation, that US troops cannot be put into any danger.” The official, who requested anonymity, added that Trump, after learning of the intended Turkish operation “rightly made it clear as Commander-in-Chief, that our small number of troops in the relatively small, safety zone or border region in Northern Syria should not be danger.

“We have a small number, 50 to 100 special operators, in the region, and they should not be put at risk of injury, death, or capture in the event that the Turks do come over the border and engage in combat. So, as Commander-in-Chief, it was his obligation to remove that small number of troops who are there,” the official noted.

The official affirmed “there has been no announcement at present, and this does not constitute a withdrawal from Syria. We’re talking about a small number of troops that will move to other bases within Syria.” The official reiterated that the small number of (our) troops “will be moving to more secure areas over the next several days.” The White House had announced that Turkey “will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria” and that the US military “will not support or be involved in the operation,” whereas the Pentagon affirmed that the US does not “endorse” the Turkish operation there.

Source: Kuwait News Agency