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Trump defends pulling troops from northern Syria, says he is an ‘island of one’

WATCH ABOVE: Trump says they don't want Turkey 'killing a lot of people'

U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that he is an “island of one” for removing U.S. forces from northeastern Syria.

But he remained steadfast and defended a move that drew widespread bipartisan criticism that he has endangered stability in the Middle East and risked the lives of Syrian Kurdish allies who helped the U.S. bring down the Islamic State group in Syria.

READ MORE: Kurds in Syria eye Assad for protection after Trump orders troops to withdraw

Turkey, however, regards those Kurdish fighters as a terrorist threat and has launched a military operation against them.

Trump said the U.S. cannot fight “endless wars.”

Congressman Kinzinger calls Syria withdrawal ‘depressing,’ ‘disheartening’
Congressman Kinzinger calls Syria withdrawal ‘depressing,’ ‘disheartening’

“We have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers, we have to bring them home. It’s time. It’s time,” Trump said in a lengthy and wide-ranging address to the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of social conservative activists.

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READ MORE: Protesters rally outside White House against Turkey’s actions in Syria

He portrayed the Middle East as a hopeless cause, despite years of American military involvement and financial investment.

“It’s less safe now. It’s less secure, less stable and they fight,” he said. “That’s what they do. They fight.”

U.S. threatens Turkey with sanctions over Syria assault
U.S. threatens Turkey with sanctions over Syria assault

Trump announced that he had directed $50 million in emergency aid for Syria to support Christians and other religious minorities there.

READ MORE: Trump, Syria and Turkey — Here’s a look at what’s happening

Before the speech, Trump was joined on stage by Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who was released by Turkey in October 2018 after nearly two years of confinement. The case had roiled relations with Turkey and prompted an outcry from U.S. evangelical groups.

Brunson led Saturday’s audience in a prayer for the president.

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seize border town of Ras al Ain
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seize border town of Ras al Ain