President Donald Trump on Sunday offered thanks to Russia and other countries before the soldiers who carried out the raid and Congress for helping U.S. Special Forces assassinate ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

“This raid was impeccable and could only have taken place with the acknowledgment and help of certain other nations and people,” said Trump Sunday morning in a news conference. “I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us.”

Trump also called Russia “very cooperative” in the operation to kill the Islamic State’s leader.

“We said it would be a mission they’d like, too, because they hate ISIS, too,” the president added of the Russians.

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Trump also claimed Kurdish fighters assisted in the effort by providing useful intelligence to American troops. His comment comes just weeks after the White House ordered a withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria, a move that drew bipartisan rebuke because it was viewed as a betrayal of the Kurds, a key ally in the fight against ISIS. Trump was also widely accused of bowing down to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by allowing Turkey to continue its military operation in the region. Many lawmakers and national security experts also blasted the decision to pull American troops out of Syria as a gift to Russia because the country has long sought a stronger foothold in the Middle East.

Many pundits and lawmakers on Sunday quickly slammed Trump for thanking Russia and Turkey first before U.S. troops for killing ISIS’s leader.

However, others like Rep. Tom Rice (R-South Carolina) praised Trump and U.S. forces for killing ISIS’s leader and appeared to take no issue with the president thanking Russia first.

In Sunday’s press conference, Trump said al-Baghdadi died by blowing himself up — along with three children — with a suicide vest after American forces cornered him in a tunnel in northwestern Syria.


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