Cheryl Diaz Meyer, KSL File

Mitt Romney says Kurds ‘shamefully betrayed’ as Turkey attacks in Syria

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - Oct. 9, 2019 at 6:01 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney weighed in again on President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of northern Syria as Turkish forces launched an offensive against the Kurds on Wednesday.

“Reports indicate Turkey is predictably attacking the Kurdish allies we abandoned. It’s a tragic loss of life among friends shamefully betrayed. We can only hope the President’s decision does not lead to even greater loss of life and a resurgence of ISIS,” the Utah Republican tweeted.

Romney sharply criticized Trump on Monday, calling the president’s abrupt decision to pull troops from Syria a “betrayal” of the Kurds that “says America is an unreliable ally.”

Turkey’s long-expected offensive into northeastern Syria included airstrikes and shelling that targeted Syrian Kurdish fighters who have played a key role in aiding the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State militant group.

“This morning, Turkey, a NATO member, invaded Syria. The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.

Trump said no American soldiers are in the area where the Turkish incursion took place and he defended his decision to pull U.S. troops from the region amid criticism from Republicans and Democrats, according to the Hill.

“From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars — especially those that don’t benefit the United States,” Trump said.

The president said Turkey had committed to protecting civilians and religious minorities, and that the country would be responsible for imprisoned ISIS fighters and ensuring the terrorist group “does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a staunch Trump ally, joined Romney on Monday in calling Trump’s decision a betrayal of the Kurds.

“When it comes to fighting ISIS it’s a bad idea to outsource American national security to Russia, Iran, and Turkey,” Graham tweeted Wednesday.

Later Graham added, “America is better than this. Please stand up to Turkey, Mr. President.”

On Monday, Romney called for the Trump administration to “immediately” reconsider withdrawing U.S. peacekeeping troops. He tweeted that the president’s plan is ultimately a victory for Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, Russia, Iran and ISIS.

Romney, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, also issued a joint statement with the ranking member, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut.

In the joint statement, Romney and Murphy said the president’s decision “will have grave humanitarian and national security consequences. After enlisting support from the Kurds to help destroy ISIS and assuring Kurdish protection from Turkey, the U.S. has now opened the door to their destruction.”

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