U.S. President Donald Trump is receiving renewed criticism for the now on-going Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, which was launched three days after he opened the way by pulling American troops from their positions near the border alongside their Kurdish allies.
Trump defended his decision in a bizarre press conference with reporters Wednesday in which he noted that the Kurds didn’t help the allies during World War II.
"They owe us hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars, so no, I don't look at it that way. Now the Kurds are fighting for their land, just so you understand. They are fighting for their land." Trump continued, "And 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, they mentioned names of different battles."
Trump was quickly blasted online for the odd statement. Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin simply responded, “Dumbest president. Ever.” Former Obama official Ben Rhodes wrote, “Reminder that Trump has trashed all the allies who fought with us in Normandy, and also just glibly referred to ISIS terrorists returning to Europe bc of Trump's policy.”
Actor Jeffrey Wright commented on Congressman Mark Meadows who stood behind Trump while he made the remark, saying, “The remaining liddle' burnt crisp of Mark Meadows' soul exits his body in search of the remnants of Trump's so-called brain.”
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Other twitter users noted it was a “Pretty f*cking bold statement from a guy who didn’t help us in Vietnam” while another listed all the other “countries that did not fight with the US at Normandy whose leaders Trump nonetheless helps or praises.”
Turkish ground forces seized at least one village from Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as they pressed ahead with their assault for a second day Thursday, pounding towns and villages along the border with airstrikes and artillery.
Residents of border areas within Syria scrambled in panic as they tried to escape on foot and in cars, pickup trucks and motorcycle rickshaws piled with mattresses and belongings, and the UN refugee agency said tens of thousands of people were on the move. It was wrenchingly familiar for many who only a few years ago had fled the militants of the Islamic State group.
At a time when Trump faces an impeachment inquiry, the move drew swift criticism from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with many national defense experts, who say it has endangered not only the Kurds and regional stability but U.S. credibility as well. The Syrian Kurdish militia was the only U.S. ally in the campaign that brought down the Islamic State group in Syria.
Trump warned Turkey for moderation during its assault and safeguard civilians. But the opening barrage showed little sign of holding back: The Turkish Defense Military said its jets and artillery had struck 181 targets so far. More than a dozen columns of heavy black smoke rose above one border town.
A Kurdish-led group and Syrian activists said that despite the bombardment, Turkish troops had not made much progress on several fronts they had opened. But their claims could not be independently verified, and the situation was difficult to assess.