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.
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.