President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Latest: Trump says Syria 'very nicely under control'

October 16, 2019 - 10:42 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and Syria (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says things are "very nicely under control" in northern Syria where Turkish forces are fighting Syrian Kurds who were aligned with the U.S. against the Islamic State group.

Trump tells reporters at the White House that Syrian Kurdish fighters that Turkey considers terrorists are more dangerous than IS.

Turkey believes the Syrian Kurds who fought alongside the U.S. are linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the PKK, which it considers terrorists.

Trump is defending his decision to pull U.S. forces out of the Syrian border region where brutal fighting continues.

At a news conference with Trump, Italy's president says Italy is deeply concerned about the Turkish offensive in Syria and says it will "offer new space" to IS.

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12:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, essentially abandoning the Syria Kurd fighters who fought alongside U.S. against the Islamic State group, is drawing criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump's closest allies, says Trump's decision will allow IS to remerge. The South Carolina Republican says Trump will "be held accountable."

Graham says Trump's decision "is against all sound military advice." Graham says he hopes Trump "will reconsider, stop the bloodshed and reset the table before it's too late."

Graham says that if Trump continues along those lines, "then our foreign policy is in a very bad spot in the Middle East and to those who think the Mideast doesn't matter to America, remember 9/11 we had that same attitude on 9/10 2001."

Another Republican senator, Florida's Marco Rubio, tells reporters that he doesn't know what can be done to undo the harm that's resulted from the withdrawal. Rubio says "there are some mistakes that are not easy to reverse. And there are some that are irreversible."

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10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says U.S. troops are "largely out" of a region of Syria where Turkish forces are attacking Kurdish fighters.

Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters allied with the U.S. after Trump pulled troops from the region this month. As he met Wednesday with Italy's president, Trump said: "If Syria wants to fight to take back their land, that's up to them and Turkey."

Trump adds: "There's a lot of sand that they can play with."

But as Trump defends removing troops from northeastern Syria, he's talking up his recent decision to send more troops to Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom defend against Iran.

Trump says the U.S. is sending missiles and "great power" to the Saudis, and adds: "They're paying for that."