- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2019

President Trump on Monday defended his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northeast Syria, saying he is keeping his pledge to get Americans out of “endless wars.”

Mr. Trump was pushing back on critics from both parties, who said his move would be a recipe for disaster and put American-backed Kurdish-led fighters in danger.

“I was elected on getting out of these ridiculous endless wars, where our great Military functions as a policing operation to the benefit of people who don’t even like the USA,” he said on Twitter.

Mr. Trump’s surprise announcement late Sunday evening came as a shock to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have partnered with Washington for years in the battle against the Islamic State. The U.S. withdrawal from the area clears the way for a military assault by Turkey, which views the Kurdish-led SDF as a threat to its own security.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that the withdrawal had begun.

Mr. Trump rejected the idea he was withdrawing as a special favor to Mr. Erdogan or playing into geopolitical rivals’ hands with the move.

SEE ALSO: Kurds accuse Donald Trump of ‘stab in the back’ as U.S. forces leave northeast Syria

“The two most unhappy countries at this move are Russia & China, because they love seeing us bogged down, watching over a quagmire, & spending big dollars to do so,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “When I took over, our Military was totally depleted. Now it is stronger than ever before. The endless and ridiculous wars are ENDING! We will be focused on the big picture, knowing we can always go back & BLAST!”

Mr. Trump said he will punish Turkey with economic ruin if it steps of line, once the U.S. withdraws.

“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!),” Mr. Trump tweeted. “They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate.”

• Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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