"Plenty of Turks" have died as a result of conflicts on Turkey's borders, U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday in defense of his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
"You have to look at it both ways," Trump told reporters as he convened with top officials at the White House. "We’re having very good news coming out. The ceasefire’s holding."
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northeastern Syria in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
On Oct. 17, Turkey agreed to pause the operation for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.
"The Kurds are moving out to safer areas beyond the safe zone," Trump said, referring to the YPG/PKK.
He further contended that U.S. troops are coming home following his decision, a claim at odds with remarks from Defense Secretary Mark Esper who said most U.S. service members will instead be redeployed to neighboring Iraq.
Trump said he does not think "it's going to be necessary" to leave a residual force in northeast Syria, saying "I don't want to leave any troops there." But he acknowledged that Jordan and Israel have requested some U.S. troops remain in a part of the country near the countries.
"So we have a small group there, and we secured the oil. Other than that, there's no reason for it, in our opinion," he said.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG/PKK.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
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