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November 13, 2019

President Trump welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House on Wednesday, and during a joint press conference praised the leader for his "great relationship with the Kurds."

Last month, Trump ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria, paving the way for Turkey to launch a military assault against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF fought against the Islamic State, and took over land ISIS controlled near the Turkish border, which was too close for Erdogan's comfort — Turkey considers the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a terrorist group, and the SDF an offshoot. Since the assault began last month, there have been several reports of Turkish-backed Arab fighters carrying out ethnic violence against Kurds in Syria.

During the press conference, Trump and Erdogan were asked by a reporter from Iraqi Kurdistan about the Kurds. Trump said that "many Kurds live currently in Turkey and they're happy and they're taken care of," while Erdogan declared he has "no problems with the Kurds, we have problems with terrorist organizations, and of course you're not going to own up to the terrorists, are you?" Catherine Garcia

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