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Trump defends his Syria decision amid broad criticism


Washington: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday highlighted US-Turkey relations amid broad criticism against his decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria where Turkish offensive has been underway.

"So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet," Trump said in a morning tweet. Turkey, however, has been removed from the F-35 program this July as a result of receiving the Russian S-400 missile system, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Also remember, and importantly, that Turkey is an important member in good standing of NATO," he added.

Trump also announced that his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan would visit the United States next month.

About 50 US military personnel stationed in the border area in northern Syria would be redeployed within Syria, a senior official of the Trump administration said on Monday.

Trump's latest decision on Syria has drawn wide criticism by lawmakers from both parties, who warned about a resurgence of the Islamic State and a humanitarian crisis for the Syrian Kurds following the Turkish incursion.

In a move to alleviate criticism, Trump wrote in the following tweet that Washington would not abandon the Syrian Kurds, an ally in the anti-IS campaign.

"We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters," he noted, adding "We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons!"

He also warned Ankara that "any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency."

Turkey's Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that its military had completed all preparations for a military operation in the east of Euphrates River in Syria to establish a safe zone.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said on the same day that the Syrian government will defend all Syrian areas and will not accept any form of occupation by foreign forces.

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