In an appearance at the White House Wednesday during a visit by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Donald Trump appeared to excuse the deaths of Kurds in Syria at the hands of invading Turkish forces, saying that Kurds themselves were “not angels.” In addition, he suggested that Kurdish fighters led the war against the terror group ISIS, fighting in close alliance with the United States, because “we paid a lot of money” for them to fight, as quoted in an account by the news site Raw Story.
An estimated 11,000 Kurdish fighters were killed in the war against ISIS, which began in 2014. The U.S. spent a total of $28.5 billion on the war, though, according to figures compiled by CNN, only about $1.4 billion went to the Kurds over the past five years to pay for supplies, training, military equipment, and a small stipend paid to each Kurdish soldier of between $100 and $400 per month.
By comparison, CNN reported, in the year 2017 alone, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel each received payments of $3 billion from the U.S.
Trump announced on October 6 that he had ordered the U.S. troops stationed in Northeast Syria, near the border with Turkey, pulled back to make way for a Turkish military offensive against the Kurds living there. The Turkish invasion has resulted in reports of atrocities against the Kurds, including the brutal roadside assassination of Kurdish political and women’s rights leader Hevrin Khalaf, as The Inquisitr reported.
Trump says Turkey invading Syria has "nothing to do with us," adds that the Kurds "aren't angels" pic.twitter.com/JooscZplZR— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 16, 2019
But Trump on Wednesday said that the Turkish invasion and assault on Kurdish fighters and civilians there “has nothing to do with us.”
According to figures released by Turkey, 440 Kurdish fighters have been killed so far in the invasion. The Turkish offensive has also driven about 130,000 people from their homes in Northeast Syria. Trump, however, claimed on Wednesday that “The Kurds are much safer right now.” He also shrugged off the entire Turkish offensive.
“If Turkey goes into Syria it is between Turkey and Syria,” he said, as quoted in the Raw Story report. “It’s not our problem.”
Nonetheless, the Turkish assault on the Kurds has resulted in the escape of hundreds of ISIS members and affiliates who were being held in prison camps near the Syrian-Turkish border, according to a report by Britain’s Independent newspaper.
About 800 people escaped from one camp that held ISIS fighters. On Wednesday, Kurdish officials reported that nine French women believed to be members of ISIS also escaped when the Kurdish fighters responsible for guarding the ISIS detainees fled to escape the Turkish military assault.