WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his decision to withdraw troops from the Kurdish-controlled northern Syria, saying he is trying to end the endless war.
Turkey has launched a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, with intensive bombardment paving the way for a ground offensive.
The operation was possible after the US announced on Sunday that US troops will no longer be "in the immediate area".
"Turkey has been planning to attack the Kurds for a long time. They have been fighting forever. We have no soldiers or Military anywhere near the attack area. I am trying to end the ENDLESS WARS," Trump tweeted.
His administration, Trump said, is talking to both sides.
"Some want us to send tens of thousands of soldiers to the area and start a new war all over again," he said. Turkey is a member of NATO, he noted.
"Others say STAY OUT, let the Kurds fight their own battles (even with our financial help). I say hit Turkey very hard financially & with sanctions if they don't play by the rules! I am watching closely," said the US President.
Trump earlier hoped Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would act rationally in terms of the operation in northern Syria.
Warning of actions against Turkey's economy, Trump said that he would consider moves tougher than sanctions if Ankara does not do the operations in northern Syria in as humane a way as possible.
"I will wipe out (Turkey's) his economy if that happens," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if he is concerned that the Turkish President Erdogan will try to wipe out the Kurds.
When asked about 'humane' way, the president indicated that he will adopt a policy of wait and watch.
"We are going to have to see. We're going to have to define that as we go along. If you listen to Erdogan, he wants to have people go back to where they came from, go back to Syria," he said.
"Right now, Turkey is holding millions of people that would be all over the place if Erdogan wasn't holding them. So, he wants to repatriate. He wants to have them to go back into the area that he's looking at," he said.
"We will see. We'll see how he does it. He could do it in a soft manner. He could do it in a very tough manner. If he does it unfairly, he's going to pay a very big economic price," Trump warned.