Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan threatened to release millions of refugees into Europe if it labels his invasion of northern Syria an “invasion.”
“Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,” Erdogan said during a speech Thursday.
“They are not honest, they just make up words,” he said. “We, however, create action and that is our difference.”
The comments came as Turkey launched airstrikes in Syrian towns controlled by the Kurds along its southern border. Turkey has long viewed the PKK, a Kurdish militia that helped the US fight ISIS, a terror threat.
The operation came to be after President Trump spoke with Erdogan and shortly after announced that he would be pulling US troops from the region, effectively endorsing Turkey’s attack.
Trump defends betraying Kurds:
Trump defended leaving the Kurds to be slaughtered by Turkey after helping the US fight ISIS.
“Now the Kurds are fighting for their land,” Trump said at a Wednesday news conference. “They didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy, for example.”
Trump attributed the comment to an article he read, which appeared in the far-right outlet Townhall.com.
Asked if he worried that ISIS prisoners in the region would be able to go free, Trump shrugged.
"Well they're going to be escaping to Europe, that's where they want to go, they want to go back to their homes. But Europe didn't want them from us. We could have given it to them, they could have trials, they could have done whatever they wanted. But as usual, it's not reciprocal..." the president said.
Turkish invasion condemned:
Despite Turkey’s warning, the international community has condemned Turkey’s invasion even as Trump is content to let it happen.
“As a government we think that the Turkish offensive initiative is unacceptable. We condemn it … because military action in the past has always led to more terrorism,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said. “We call for an immediate end to this offensive which is absolutely not acceptable given that the use of force continues to endanger the life of the Syrian people, who have already experienced tragedy in recent years.”
“Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.