Audrey Conklin on October 11, 2019

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said President Donald Trump gave Turkey the “green light” to attack Kurds in Syria during a Friday morning Axios conference.

Rice’s comments came two days after the Turkish Armed Forces launched an offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, killing at least seven people in ground and air attacks after the White House ordered the remaining 50 U.S. soldiers in northern Syria out of the region Sunday.

Rice was responding to a question about whether the U.S. has “clarified its position” on Turkey’s offensive in Syria “clearly enough” when she said, “Yeah, the position is: green light.”

“I think there’s been an effort to try to clean up a huge mess that the president made with his base here in Washington,” she said. “I think it’s absolutely political. … First, the president gave Erdogan the green-light on the first.”

“We continued to provide them aerial imagery until Monday when the offensive was about to begin, we did nothing to defend the Kurds when they were under assault from the air and deliberately ordered U.S. military personnel not to intercede to help the Kurds. Now, we’re just having a few more days of the Trump bluster about, you know, ‘I didn’t tell them they could do that,’” Rice continued.

President Donald Trump said the U.S. “in no way” has “abandoned the Kurds” after Erdogan announced his “Operation Peace Spring” offensive.

The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” he added. “There are no American soldiers in the area. From the first day I entered the political arena, I made it clear that I did not want to fight these endless, senseless wars — especially those that don’t benefit the United States.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. did not green-light Turkey’s offensive in Syria in a Wednesday interview with PBS NewsHour.

Trump said during a Wednesday press conference that he would “wipe out” Erdogan’s economy if his forces in Syria wipe out the Kurdish population. The Kurds, an ethnic group, reside in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia.

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