Published On: Thu, Oct 10th, 2019

Donald Trump silences reporter with claim Kurds ‘didn’t help us in the Second World War’ | World | News

The US President’s astonishing remarks came as Turkey unleashed a series of airstrikes on Kurdish backed Syrian Defence Force (SDF) targets in northern Syria. Fears that Mr Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of the war-ravaged region would leave the Kurds vulnerable to attack from the Turkish forces were realised as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the launch of a full military offensive.

As Turkish troops bombarded and advanced into the region, activists and observers have reported multiple civilian casualties.

The Turkish Defence Ministry said Turkish jets and artillery had struck 181 targets east of the Euphrates River in Syria since the incursion started.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said Kurdish fighters had repelled Turkish forces ground attacks.

Ankara insists the long-planned operation is designed to protect citizens from a security threat posed by Kurdish fighters who it views as terrorists even though they fought alongside US troops in a bloody and hard-won ground campaign against ISIS in which they lost around 11,000 personnel.

Mr Trump’s decision to pull US forces out has been widely criticised internationally but his attempts to defend their withdrawal has been met with astonishment.

He told reporters the Kurds “didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us with Normandy as an example – they mention the names of different battles, they weren’t there”.

Speaking after signing executive orders at the White House he said: “We have spent a tremendous amount of money helping the Kurds.

“They’re fighting for their land. When you say they’re fighting with the US, yes. But they’re fighting for their land.”

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Mr Trump said he learned that the Kurds did not help in Normandy from a “very, very powerful article”.

He said: “Alliances are very easy. But our alliances have taken advantage of us.

“If you look at how much money we spend on NATO and how much countries from Europe who are a much bigger beneficiary than we are.”

Turkey has been criticised after its planned invasion of northeastern Syria got underway.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, while noting that Turkey “has legitimate security concerns” after suffering “horrendous terrorist attacks” and hosting thousands of refugees, said the country should not “further destabilise the region” with its military action in Syria.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned the offensive, saying it will “further destabilise the region and strengthen” ISIS.

Plumes of smoke could be seen rising near the town of Qamishli and clashes continued late last night amid intense shelling as Turkey struck at least six different border towns along a 290-mile stretch.

At least seven civilians and three members of the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in the Turkish bombardment, Kurdish activists and a Syria war monitor said.

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