Trump warns Turkey against attacking Kurds

Turkish US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

In a tweet, Donald Trump warned Turkey of economic devastation if it attacks US-backed Kurdish militias.

He noted, however, that Washington doesn't want the Kurds to provoke Turkey as well.

Donald Trump has threatened North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey with economic devastation if Ankara attacks the Kurds after the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria.

While Turkey aims to pursue the Kurdish forces allied with the United States, the Russia- and Iran-backed Syrian government sees a chance to recover extensive territory.

His declaration of victory against ISIS was far from unanimous, and officials said USA defense and military leaders were trying to dissuade him from ordering the withdrawal right up until the last minute. In a televised speech in December, he said Turkey's army would be ready "neutralize terrorist organizations" in upcoming months, according to the Financial Times. "Create 20 mile safe zone...."

Bali said the people of northern Syria and the coalition must discuss a plan for "after the elimination of Daesh, and to take measures to prevent Daesh reorganising itself and returning once again".

Senior US officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest.

"Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions", he wrote.

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It considers the YPG and its political wing, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), to be "terrorist groups" with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey.

The Turkish government has said Kurdish fighters are linked to a group that has been mounting an insurgency against the Turkish state for decades.

The president announced the move in December, prompting concerns that Syrian Kurds, who had helped the USA fight Islamic State, would be left at the mercy of neighbouring Turkey, which views some of them as terrorists.

But, he added, "we also know that those are fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well".

The previous week, Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton had announced that Washington would withdraw its troops from Syria only after defeating ISIS and ensuring that the Kurds are safe.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that equipment was being moved out of Syria, a sign that despite mixed messages from Washington preparations for a withdrawal of troops was proceeding apace.

Pompeo's call with Cavusoglu came as the top U.S. diplomat continues a marathon Middle East tour, which has taken him to Cairo, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

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