President Trump addressed the Values Voter Summit on Saturday, Oct. 12, in Washington, and announced that he had directed $50 million in emergency aid for Syria to support Christians and other religious minorities in the country.
“This funding will provide emergency financial assistance to Syrian human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and reconciliation efforts directly supporting ethnic and religious minority victims of the conflict,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
“It will also go toward increased accountability, removal of explosive remnants of war, community security for stabilization assistance, documenting human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations, and support for survivors of gender-based violence and torture,” the statement reads.
President Trump decided to withdraw the U.S. forces from northeastern Syria—the move drew widespread bipartisan criticism.
“These wars, they never end. And we have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers back from the never-ending wars,” the president told the crowd. “We defeated ISIS, we did our job, now we have to go home.”
“Don’t forget they are fighting for their land. They haven’t helped us fight for our land,” he continued. “Let them have their borders, but I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 15 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders.”
At one point, President Trump said he was “sort of an island of one again” in his fight to bring the troops home from the endless wars while recalling the moment families of soldiers broke down when the flag-draped coffin came out of the cargo plane.
“You would hear the screams and cries like you’ve never heard before actually,” he said. “We’ve been in these wars now, one of them 19 years, and we don’t fight to win, we fight to just stay there.”
Before the speech, Trump was joined on stage by Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who was released by Turkey in October 2018 after nearly two years. The case had roiled relations with Turkey and prompted an outcry from U.S. evangelical groups.
Brunson led Saturday’s audience in a prayer for the president.
Includes reporting from the Associated Press