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Trump defends Syria withdrawal, says US should protect its own borders first

Washington: Donald Trump has defended his decision to withdraw troops from north-eastern Syria, telling conservative Christian activists that the US should prioritise protecting its own borders.

“Let them have their borders, but I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders at home,” Trump said in a speech to the Value Voters Summit in Washington, an annual conference of religious conservatives.

US President Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Washington on Saturday.

US President Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Washington on Saturday.Credit:Bloomberg

Trump was elected in 2016 running on a hard-line immigration policy and has sought to make legal and illegal immigration to the US more difficult, pushing for a wall to be built on the US-Mexico border among other measures.

After a phone call between Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last Sunday, Trump made an abrupt policy change and ordered out US forces in north-east Syria who had been fighting with Kurdish YPG militia against Islamic State. Within days Turkey began an offensive against the YPG, which it says is a terrorist group backing Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

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