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Trump Faces Criticism on Decision to Withdraw from Northern Syria

U.S. and Turkish military forces conduct a joint ground patrol inside the security mechanism area in northeast, Syria, September 8, 2019. Picture taken September 8, 2019. U.S. Army/Spc. Alec Dionne/Handout via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Trump Faces Criticism on Decision to Withdraw from Northern Syria
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Lawmakers of both major American political parties are condemning President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

Trump made the announcement Sunday ahead of an expected attack by Turkey on Kurdish fighters belonging to the alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.

The Kurds have been allied with American troops in the fight against the Islamic State militants, or ISIS.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell of the Republican Party and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, released separate statements criticizing the move.

McConnell said a withdrawal right now would only help Russia Iran, and the rule of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Pelosi: a betrayal

Pelosi said the development “betrays our Kurdish allies who have been instrumental partners” in destroying the Islamic State.

Trump defended his action in a post on Twitter on Monday. The president wrote, "...It is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN."

He added, "Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their neighborhood.”

One of Trump’s most loyal supporters, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, called the withdrawal plan a "disaster in the making.”

The Trump administration announced on Sunday that Turkey "will soon be moving forward" with its plans to carry out an offensive in northern Syria.

The White House said, "The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial 'Caliphate,' will no longer be in the immediate area." The White House noted a phone call earlier in the day between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

As criticism grew on Monday that his decision would serve as approval of Turkish military action in northern Syria, Trump suggested on that he would act against Turkey if necessary.

He wrote on Twitter, "As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)”

Officials with the U.S. Departments of Defense and State have been expressing opposition to any such move by Turkey.

"The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey - as did the President - that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria," said Jonathan Hoffman. He is Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. "The U.S. Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation."

A top State Department official made similar comments. "We think this operation is a very bad idea. We do not think this operation will provide more security in the fight” against Islamic State for Turkey or for the people of the northeast, the official said.

The SDF says the withdrawal violates a U.S.-Turkey agreement that involved the Kurdish fighters surrendering some of their defensive capabilities near the border to allay Turkish concerns.

Turkey views the main force within the SDF, called the People’s Protection Units, as an extension of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. It has been fighting for greater rights in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast for many years.

Caty Weaver adapted this story for Learning English based on VOA News report. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

ridiculous - adj. extremely silly or unreasonable​

benefit - n. a good or helpful result or effect​

figure - n. to understand or find (something, such as a reason) by thinking​

reiterate - v. to repeat something you have already said in order to emphasize it​

obliterate - v. to destroy (something) completely so that nothing is left​

endorse - v. to publicly or officially say that you support or approve of (someone or something)​

allay - v. to make (something) less severe or strong

capability - n. the ability to do something