The White House:
John Fritze, USA TODAY
Published 12: 59 p.m. ET Dec. 26, 2019 | Updated 2: 10 p.m. ET Dec. 26, 2019
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump warned Russia and Iran on Thursday not to kill “innocent civilians” in a Syrian conflict that has forced an exodus of residents from Idlib province to unstable areas near the Turkish border.
Trump tweeted the warning from his resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
As many as 200,000 civilians have fled Idlib province as forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad bomb rebel-held territory.
“Russia, Syria, and Iran are killing, or on their way to killing, thousands of innocent civilians in Idlib Province. Don’t do it! Turkey is working hard to stop this carnage,” the president wrote Thursday.
Syrian forces have bombarded southern and eastern Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold in the war-torn country, since late November. A ground offensive that began last week displaced more people, and government forces captured more than 40 villages and hamlets, according to the Syrian army and opposition activists.
The Syrian Response Coordination Group, a relief group in northwestern Syria, said 216,632 people have fled their homes. Many of them are probably headed to the Turkey-Syria border. Turkey remains a close U.S. ally despite bipartisan concerns about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invasion of Syria this year.
Trump faced a backlash in October for withdrawing U.S. troops from northern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey’s invasion days later. The president reasserted his relationship with Erdogan during a White House visit last month, saying he is a “big fan” of his Turkish counterpart.
The president is staying at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the holidays. He spent much of the morning after Christmas slamming House Democrats amid deliberations over a Senate trial to consider two articles of impeachment approved last week. He directed most of his ire at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said the impeachment made it harder for him to deal with foreign leaders.
Russia, Syria, and Iran are killing, or on their way to killing, thousands of innocent civilians in Idlib Province. Don’t do it! Turkey is working hard to stop this carnage.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2019
Contributing: The Associated Press
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