- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2019

President Trump said Monday the cease-fire along the Turkey-Syria border is “holding” and took another victory lap over his rout of the Islamic State, even as Republicans fear his policy moves could allow the militant Islamic caliphate to reemerge.

“We’re having very good news coming out. The cease-fire’s holding,” Mr. Trump told a White House meeting of his Cabinet.

Mr. Trump is fending off criticism from both parties over his decision to withdraw dozens of troops from a Syrian buffer zone with Turkey. Lawmakers say it allowed Turkish forces to overrun American-allied Kurdish fighters, and that he added insult to injury by negotiating a cease-fire that allows Turkey to establish a safe zone while pushing out Kurds.

Residents of a heavily Kurdish city in northeast Syria threw potatoes at withdrawing American troops on Monday, underscoring the deep anger over Mr. Trump‘s decision to pull most U.S. forces amid a Turkish military offensive.

Mr. Trump has compared the fight to two children in the lot fighting out old grievances. He said Turkey has taken casualties, too.

“Plenty of Turks have been killed because of conflict on their borders. You have to look at both ways,” he told his Cabinet.

He said the U.S. “never made a commitment to the Kurds” and that they’ll “work something out so they have some money,” hinting at a deal with oil companies or some other kind of “cash flow.”

“We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives,” he said. “We’re not going to take a position. Let them fight themselves.”

Mr. Trump says he withdrew troops to fulfill his campaign pledge of bringing troops home from foreign entanglements, yet the soldiers are being shuffled to new places.

While Defense Secretary Mark Esper suggested Monday that a small U.S. force may stay behind to guard oil fields in the region, the bulk of the 1,000 American troops are now exiting Syria and heading to Iraq.

Republican leaders are fearful that a full withdrawal would allow Islamic State fighters to reclaim territory.

Mr. Trump said President Obama was to blame for the Islamic State’s rise. He says he knows how to keep them in check.

“I’m the one who did the capturing,” he said. “I’m the one who knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits.”

Ben Wolfgang contributed to this story.

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