President Donald Trump. Image courtesy Reuters

President Donald Trump denied on Wednesday that he had given Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “green light” to launch operations against Kurdish militants in Syria.

“President Erdogan’s decision didn’t surprise me because he’s wanted to do that for a long time,” Trump told reporters. “He’s been building up troops on the border with Syria for a long time.

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“I didn’t give him a green light,” Trump said. “Just the opposite of a green light.”

Recall that Turkey rebuffed international pressure to curb its military offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria on Wednesday as President Trump dispatched his deputy Mike Pence to Ankara to demand a ceasefire.

President Erdogan vowed Turkey’s operation — which has been facilitated by the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria — would continue.

The only way to solve Syria’s problems, Erdogan told parliament, was for the Kurdish forces to “lay down their arms… destroy all their traps and get out of the safe zone that we have designated.”