Trump Branded 'Obscene and Ignorant' by Former Anti-ISIS Envoy After Comparing Turkish Invasion of Syria to Fight Between 'Two Kids in a Lot'

The former presidential envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition has hit out at President Donald Trump for dismissive comments the U.S. leader made about ongoing fighting in Syria at a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas on Thursday.

Trump took credit for an agreement between Turkey and Kurdish-led forces to halt the fighting in northeastern Syria for five days, and compared the conflict to a fight between "two kids in a lot."

Brett McGurk—who resigned as the U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition after Trump said in 2018 that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria—described the president's assertions as "obscene and ignorant."

McGurk tweeted, "200k innocent people displaced. Hundreds dead. Credible reports of war crimes. ISIS prisoners escaping. US evacuating and bombing its own positions or handing them to Russia. Two kids in a lot?"

Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed the ceasefire Thursday after more than a week of fighting.

Turkish forces and their proxies are seeking to clear the Syrian Democratic Forces—a coalition of militias led by Kurdish troops which Ankara considers terrorists—from a swathe of territory along the country's southern border.

Hundreds have been killed and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes since the operation began. Kurdish forces—abandoned by the U.S. allies that had been protecting them—have turned to the Russia- and Iran-backed Syrian government for protection, handing over control of key towns to Syrian troops.

Fighting is continuing as of Friday, though local reports suggest a lower intensity in ongoing clashes than in recent days.

Trump is accused of green-lighting the Turkish operation by withdrawing American troops from the Turkey-Syria border region. The president has denied responsibility for the fighting while threatening crippling sanctions on Turkey if it does not halt its incursion.

But Trump has also consistently dismissed the severity of the situation, denying America's responsibility to back its Kurdish allies and disparaging the strategic value of Washington's continued involvement.

On Thursday, he told supporters in Dallas, "It was unconventional what I did. I said, 'They're going to have to fight a little while.' Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while, then people find out how tough the fighting is."

He continued, "Sometimes you have to let them fight, like two kids in a lot," referring to Turkey and the Kurds. "You have to let them fight, and then you pull them apart," he added.

Trump described his approach as "tough love," calling Erdogan " a gentleman" and suggesting the crisis was over, despite statements to the contrary from both Turkey and the SDF.

The Turkish operation has been a strategic disaster for American allies and an unexpected boon for its adversaries. President Bashar al-Assad has taken control of swathes of territory without a shot being fired, with his Russian and Iranian allies increasing their leverage in the country.

Donald Trump, Syria, rally, Dallas, Brett McGurk
President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" Campaign Rally at American Airlines Center on October 17, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/Getty