President’s assertion undercuts US mission to Turkey aimed at urging Erdoğan to halt offensive
Julian Borger in Washington and Michael Safi in Amman
Trump calls decision to withdraw US troops from Syria ‘strategically brilliant’ – video
Donald Trump has hailed his decision to withdraw US troops in Syria, paving way for a Turkish offensive, as “strategically brilliant”, declaring that the Kurds he had abandoned were “much safer now” and were anyway “not angels”.
The president’s remarks contradicted the official assessment of both the state and defence departments that the Turkish offensive was a disaster for regional stability and the fight against Isis.
It also undercut a mission to Ankara by the US vice-president, Mike Pence, and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, aimed at persuading Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to halt the offensive or face US sanctions.
Fox Business published a bluntly-worded letter Trump sent to Erdoğan last week in which he called on the Turkish leader “to make a good deal”. Trump wrote that he did not want to be “responsible for destroying the Turkish economy”, if an agreement to limit the offensive was not reached.