Erdogan: Attack could be to deter US withdrawal

US service members killed in Syria explosion

BEIRUT (AP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that an explosion that killed American service members in Syria may have been an act aimed to deter the United States from withdrawing troops.

Erdogan said, however, that U.S. President Donald Trump appears to be determined to pull troops out and that he doesn’t think the U.S. leader would step back from his decision.

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The blast occurred during a routine patrol in the northern Syria town of Manbij.

“The attack in Manbij could be (aimed) to influence the decision to withdraw,” Erdogan said: “Because I saw Trump’s determination to withdraw, I believe that he will not take a step back in the face of the act of terror.

“If there is a step back, that that would amount to a victory for Daesh,” he said in reference to the Islamic State group.

Erdogan spoke Wednesday during a joint news conference with visiting Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.