President Trump insisted Friday that Kurdish allies who were being forced from northern Syria to avoid slaughter are "very happy about the way things are going," describing the already breached ceasefire brokered with Turkey like a business deal.
Mr. Trump made the comments at the White House a day after Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a ceasefire agreement from Turkey and hours after fighting in the region reportedly resumed.
On Friday, Mr. Trump claimed that the fighting was "eliminated quickly" and that Turkey is "back to a full pause."
Thethat Turkey would pause its invasion of northern Syria for five days to allow Kurdish allies to withdraw from the safe zone of the border region. But the Turks say they never agreed to a ceasefire, merely a pause.
Mr. Trump declared the U.S. is "doing very well" with Turkey, after speaking with Turkey's authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — whom he has described as a "friend" — on Friday.
"It was a lot of, a lot of pain for a couple of days and sometimes you have to go through some pain before you can get a good solution, but the Kurds are very happy about it," Mr. Trump said Friday in the Roosevelt Room during a last-minute event honoring the first all-female NASA space walk. "President Erdogan in Turkey is satisfied with it. And we are in a strong position."
The president also said the U.S. has taken control of oil in the region, although it's unclear what he meant by that.
"We've taken control of the oil in the Middle East, the oil that we're talking about. The oil that everybody was worried about. We have, the U.S. has control of that," he said.
The Kurds were the biggest U.S. ally helping to defeat ISIS in northern Syria. Earlier this month, Mr. Trump ordered U.S. troops to pull out of the region. Shortly after, Turkey invaded, killing hundreds, displacing thousands and allowing ISIS prisoners to escape from detention facilities.
On Friday, Mr. Trump assured that "we have ISIS totally under guard. Turkey is also guarding separately; they're watching over everything."
In the last few days, the president has placed the Kurds and Turkey on the same moral plane. Earlier this week, the president repeatedly said the Kurds are "not angels."
On Friday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria is going as planned. No U.S. ground forces, Esper said, will help in the enforcement of the safe zone.
"The force protection of our service members remains our top priority, and as always, U.S. forces will defend themselves from any threat as we complete our withdrawal from the area," Esper said. "No U.S. ground forces will participate in the enforcement of this safe zone, however, we will remain in communication with both Turkey and the SDF."
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