WASHINGTON — Donald Trump announced Saturday night that the U.S. will send $50 million in stabilization assistance to Syria. The money, according to the Office of the Press Secretary, is to "protect persecuted ethnic and religious minorities and advance human rights."
"This funding will provide emergency financial assistance to Syrian human rights defenders, civil society organizations and reconciliation efforts directly supporting ethnic and religious minority victims of the conflict," the statement reads.
"We hope regional and international partners will continue their contributions as well," the statement continues. "Ensuring the freedom and safety of ethnic and religious minorities remains a top priority for this Administration."
A few hours before the funding announcement, the president tweeted "The endless wars must end."
The Endless Wars Must End!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2019
He repeated that sentiment in an interview with Jeanine Pirro, which was conducted a few hours before the statement was released. The interview, which aired around 9:30 p.m. ET on Fox News, featured the president saying the Kurds — Syria's defensive fighters — have "some very good people and some very bad people" and "maybe they'll get somebody else to go in and fight with them... but we want to get out of the endless wars."
"It's 7,000 miles away from the United States. I want to protect our borders," Mr. Trump told Pirro. "We defeated 100% of the ISIS caliphate ... we're not going to stay in these areas forever."
He added that if Turkey "does something out of line," he will take action.
"It's like some people go to lunch. They [Turkey] fight with the Kurds, it's what [Turkey] does," he said. "We spend a lot of money on the Kurds... but it's time for us to go home."
Trump pulled U.S. troops out of Syria on October 6 — a decision that resulted in Turkey attacking the northern part of the country and taking over key highways and the border town of Ras al-Ayn. ISIS prisoners were also able to escape imprisonment when Turkish artillery hit a prison compound.
The president received significant backlash for the decision, with both Republican and Democratic legislators criticizing the move.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted Friday that the Trump administration "needs to up their game" when it comes to protecting Kurdish allies.
"We are witnessing ethnic cleansing in Syria by Turkey, the destruction of a reliable ally in the Kurds, and the reemergence of ISIS," he said.
While I appreciate the Administration offering to do something, conditional sanctions aren’t appropriate for the threat we face. When it comes to dealing with Erdogan and protecting our Kurdish allies, the Trump Administration needs to up their game. https://t.co/OEXse29W2W— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 11, 2019
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeted that the Kurds were instrumental to the U.S. fighting against ISIS in Syria and that "leaving them to die is a big mistake."
We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) October 7, 2019
Trump has yet to directly comment on the recent funding decision.