Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he agreed with President Trump’s decision to pull US forces out of Syria after declaring that ISIS has been defeated – describing the American troops’ presence there as illegitimate.
“The fact that the US has decided to withdraw its troops is right,” Putin said during his annual press conference.
Trump on Wednesday declared in a video message that “we won” and said the troops are “coming back now” – a decision that stunned even his own party and analysts, who say the terror group remains a deadly force.
The president on Thursday said “getting out of Syria was no surprise.”
“I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer,” Trump tweeted.
“Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing there work. Time to come home & rebuild. #MAGA.”
He added: “Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East, getting NOTHING but spending precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing? Do we want to be there forever?”
Trump said, “Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us.”
“I am building by far the most powerful military in the world. ISIS hits us they are doomed!” he wrote.
Putin said that “as concerns victory over ISIS, on the whole, I agree with the US president,” adding that “we have dealt serious blows against IS in Syria.”
But he also voiced skepticism doubt on Washington’s actions, saying, “we don’t see any signs of withdrawing US troops yet, but I concede that it is possible.”
He also noted that that the US had said many times that it was pulling out of Afghanistan.
“The United States has been in Afghanistan already for 17 years, and almost every year they say they’re withdrawing their troops,” Putin said.
The Russian strongman said the US military deployment to Syria was illegitimate because neither the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad nor the UN Security Council had approved the American mission, according to The Washington Post.
In other comments, Putin warned about the rising threat of a nuclear war, pointing at the US intention to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
He said that if Washington puts intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to take countermeasures.
He also noted that Western analysts are talking about the possibility of using low-yield nuclear weapons and warned that “there is a trend of lowering the threshold” of using nukes.
“Lowering the threshold could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe,” he added.
Meanwhile, the United States’ main ally in Syria on Thursday rejected Trump’s claim that ISIS has been defeated and warned that the withdrawal of American troops would lead to a resurgence of the terror group.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that a premature American pullout would have chilling repercussions and a destabilizing effect on the entire region.
“The war against terrorism has not ended and (ISIS) has not been defeated,” the statement said, adding that the fight against the group was at a “decisive” stage that requires even more support from the US-led coalition.
It was the first official comment by the group on Trump’s announcement Wednesday.
“The decision to pull out under these circumstances will lead to a state of instability and create a political and military void in the region and leave its people between the claws of enemy forces,” the SDF statement said.
Kurdish journalist and commentator Arin Sheikhmos said: “We have every right to be afraid.”
“If the Americans pull out and leave us to the Turks or the (Syrian) regime our destiny will be like the Kurds of Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991 — million of refugees, there will be massacres. Neither the regime, not Iran nor Turkey, will accept our presence here,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch a new offensive against the Kurds but in recent days had stepped up his rhetoric, threatening than an assault could begin “at any moment.”
Turkey views the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces, as a terror group and an extension of the insurgency within its borders.
American support for the group has strained ties between the two NATO allies.
The threat from Turkey could drive the Kurds into the arms of Syrian President Bashar Assad and, by extension, Iran and Russia.
“This is expected,” Ebrahim Ebrahim, a Europe-based Syrian Kurd, said of the pullout.
“But it is not just treason to the Kurds or the people of Syria but to democracy, to morals, if this is true. Yes, true, we fought for ourselves, but we also fought for democracies all over the world,” he added.
With Post Wires
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