By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet and Nazli Yuzbasioglu
U.S. President Donald Trump late Wednesday backed the creation of safe zones in Syria in his first media interview since his inauguration.
“Now I'll absolutely do safe zones in Syria for the people,” he said when asked about refugees in an interview for broadcaster ABC.
“I think that Europe has made a tremendous mistake by allowing these millions of people to go into Germany and various other countries. And all you have to do is take a look. It’s a disaster what's happening over there.”
The Syrian war has displaced around 12 million people, and 2.8 million Syrian refugees are living in Turkey, which has long called for the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria to shelter with those forced to flee their homes.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said the north Syrian town of Jarabulus, freed from Daesh by Turkish-backed opposition forces in August, provided a good example of how safe zones could work.
Since it was cleared of terrorists, the city has become a haven for displaced people from across Syria.
“What is important is what kind of results of this work would have and what kind of information and guidance will come out from U.S. institutions,” Muftuoglu said in a news conference.
Responding to Trump’s comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “American partners have not consulted with Russia.” According to Russia’s TASS news agency, Peskov said it was important not to “aggravate” the situation.
The president also indicated his support for the use of torture and said he would be guided by Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo on the use of methods such as waterboarding.
“As far as I'm concerned we have to fight fire with fire…” he said. “Do I think it works? Absolutely.”
A 2015 law limits interrogation techniques to those within the U.S. Army field manual, which says torture is “not only illegal but also it is a poor technique that yields unreliable results”.
Asked about the executive order he is about to sign suspending immigration by interviewer David Muir, Trump reiterated his intention to impose “extreme vetting in all cases.”
On a possible ban on Muslims entering the U.S. -- a pledge he made during the campaign -- he said: “No it's not the Muslim ban. But it’s countries that have tremendous terror.”
The interview also addressed recent comments in which Trump said the U.S. should have “kept the oil” following the 2003 Iraq invasion.
“We should have taken the oil,” he said. “You wouldn’t have ISIS [Daesh] if we took the oil… They would not have been able to fuel their rather unbelievable drive to destroy large portions of the world.”
He also accepted that the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq had “created a vacuum and ISIS formed” and criticized the spending of “$6 trillion in the Middle East” while the U.S. was “falling apart” with not enough money for inner cities.
Trump signed two executive orders on Wednesday to start the process of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and strengthen the immigration enforcement. “We have to build the wall,” he told ABC. “We have to stop drugs from pouring in. We have to stop people from just pouring into our country.”
He repeated his claim that Mexico would have to cover the entire cost of the wall, something Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto refused to do.
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