Trump told reporters Wednesday that he learned the Kurdish didn’t fight alongside the U.S. in the 1940s in a “very, very powerful article.”
“They didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example. They mention the names of different battles; they weren’t there,” he said.
“But they were there to help us with their land, and that’s a different thing.”
The Kurds are longtime U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group. They played a key role in capturing territory from ISIS and nearly 11,000 died while assisting the U.S.
“With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,” Trump said.
Turkey launched an offensive into the northeastern region of Syria on Wednesday, targeting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkish troops sent airstrikes and artillery before mounting a cross-border ground operation that forced thousands of people to flee Ras al-Ain. Civilians and SDF fighters have been killed, and dozens have been wounded.
While Trump did not name the publication or writer of the article he referenced, a Daily Beast reporter pointed to a Kurt Schlichter column published on the website Townhall one day before the president’s remarks.
The column praises Trump for his decision to withdraw American troops. It includes the line: “Let’s be honest — the Kurds didn’t show up for us at Normandy or Inchon or Khe Sanh or Kandahar.”
Trump told reporters that Washington had spent “tremendous amounts of money” arming and funding the Kurds.
“Alliances are very easy, but our alliances have taken advantage of us,” Trump said.
“They are fighting for their land. When you say they’re fighting with the U.S., yes, but they’re fighting for their land.”
Trump has called the Turkish assault against the U.S.-aligned Kurdish a “bad idea” and has reiterated that he did not endorse it.
His decision to withdraw U.S. forces has been met with widespread criticism, including from senior members of his own Republican party, who accuse him of abandoning loyal allies of Washington.
Some Kurds described Trump’s decision as a “stab in the back.” Trump has said he pulled out because he wants the U.S. to get out of “endless wars.”
— With files from Reuters