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President Trump responded on Wednesday to bipartisan condemnation of his decision to move U.S. troops out of northern Syria, telling reporters that Turkey and the Kurds have "hated each other for hundreds of years," and that if the ISIS prisoners that are currently being held by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces escape, "they will be escaping to Europe."

REPORTER: "What if ISIS fighters escape and pose a threat elsewhere?"
TRUMP: "Well they are 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 for months. They could have had trials, they could have done whatever they wanted, but as usual, it's not reciprocal. ... When President Obama took the PKK, that's a tough deal because that's been a mortal enemy of Turkey. And so when you bring them into a partnership, it's a tough situation. ... They've hated each other for many, many years."

Context: After Trump's sudden announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from northern Syria, Turkey launched a military offensive in a campaign to "neutralize terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homes."

  • The U.S. partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces in 2015 in the fight against ISIS, but Turkey considers the primarily-Kurdish militia to be a terrorist organization.
  • The SDF bore the brunt of casualties during the war against the Islamic State, with more than 10,000 killed as the U.S. largely avoided a presence on the ground.
  • The SDF is also currently holding about 11,000 ISIS detainees. A Turkish incursion — which the SDF has claimed would result in "all-out war" — is likely to pull their forces away from prison camps and the ongoing campaign against ISIS.

Trump has accused European nations of refusing to take back the prisoners who traveled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State.

  • He told reporters Wednesday that he disagrees with Republican allies who have urged him to maintain a U.S. presence in Syria, but said that he supports Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) idea to sanction Turkey if their operation is not conducted in "as humane a way as possible."
  • Asked if he is worried that the Syria decision will damage the U.S.' ability to forge future alliances, Trump said "no," adding: "Alliances are easy."

Go deeper: Republicans condemn Turkish assault on Kurds in wake of Trump's Syria decision

Go deeper

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 12 highlights

Team USAs Sydney McLaughlin in front of the timer after winning the 400m hurdles in record time at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Wally Skalij /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Day 12 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw American Sydney McLaughlin break her own world record to win gold in the women's 400-meter hurdles final on Wednesday.

Of note: Japan won a third Olympic skateboarding gold, as two teenagers and a 12-year-old swept the podium for the inaugural women's park skateboarding event.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Team USA's Sydney Mclaughlin (L) and Dalilah Muhammad celebrate winning gold and silver, respectively, in the women's 400-meter hurdles final on day 12 of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday. Photo: Andrej Isakovic-Pool/Getty Images

🥇: Sydney McLaughlin breaks own world record to win gold in 400m hurdles

🤼🏿‍♀️ "Making history": Mensah-Stock first Black woman to win Olympic wrestling gold

🛹: 2 teens and girl, 12, sweep board at women's park skateboarding

🦠: Greece's artistic swimming team to miss Olympics after COVID outbreak

🛫: Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya departs Tokyo for Vienna

.📷: In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 12 highlights

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Biden to GOP governors who resist COVID rules: "Get out of the way"

President Biden speaks at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden spoke out Tuesday against Republican governors who've sought to block vaccine and mask mandates, as COVID-19 cases spike across the U.S.

Why it matters: Biden has tried to avoid making the pandemic a partisan issue, but the Washington Post notes the White House "has grown increasingly frustrated" with Republican leaders looking to obstruct health measures.