WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- President Donald Trump lashed out Wednesday over sharp bipartisan criticism of his decision to pull back U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, saying he is focused on the "BIG PICTURE” that does not include American involvement in "stupid endless wars” in the Middle East.
"Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East,” Trump said in a series of morning tweets. "The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”
Turkey launched its offensive Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in Syria. Trump’s decision is being condemned by some of his staunchest Republican allies.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close Trump ally, stepped up his criticism of the president Wednesday, telling "Fox & Friends” that if Trump "follows through with this, it would be the biggest mistake of his presidency.”
Trump defended his unpopular decision, arguing on Twitter that "GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY!” He said the U.S. went to war under a "false & now disproven premise, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. There were NONE!”
Trump said he is "slowly & carefully” bringing home "our great soldiers & military,” in line with his campaign promise to do so.
He added: "Our focus is on the BIG PICTURE! THE USA IS GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE!”
The U.S. military has kept a decades-long focus on the Middle East as part of a strategy of purportedly stopping or minimizing security threats before they spread to American and allied shores, but the policy has only led to more bloodshed.
The U.S. has about 1,000 troops in Syria and about 5,200 in neighboring Iraq, the Associated Press said.
Trump has long criticized President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
Trump also said the U.S. has spent $8 trillion "fighting and policing” in the Middle East, up from the $7 trillion figure he has cited numerous times.
Graham said Congress "will push back” against Turkey. He had said earlier this week that he was working on a bipartisan bill to sanction Turkey if they invaded Syria, but he did not mention the proposal during Wednesday’s interview.
"We’re not giving Turkey a green light in Congress and we’re not going to abandon the Kurds,” he said. "If the President does so, we won’t.”
Trump announced Tuesday that he and Erdogan will meet at the White House on Nov. 13.