Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Trump says he will 'devastate Turkey economically' if it attacks Kurds

Trump says he will 'devastate Turkey economically' if it attacks Kurds

Trump said the removal of troops, which he announced via Twitter in December, is happening "while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions". Washington, however, has continued to support the YPG, despite the USA listing the PKK as a terrorist organization.

The president defended his decision to withdraw troops, saying any remaining IS fighters could be attacked from an unspecified "existing nearby base".

"Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds", Trump tweeted, while pushing for the creation of a 20-mile "safe zone".

Pompeo also said the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria was a "tactical change" and does not alter US military capacity to counter Daesh and Iran.

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

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.

Erdogan has said his military is prepared to attack swaths of Syria under the control of the Kurdish People's Protection Units. They fear the departure of American troops would allow Turkey to attack them.

SDF, a coalition of militias led by the Kurdish YPG, have driven Islamic State from a swathe of northern and eastern Syria with the help of the US -led coalition over the past four years.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said the U.S. recognised "the Turkish people's right and Mr Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists". 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.

At the same time, Trump urged the Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the U.S. trained and armed for years, not to "provoke" Turkey. It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress. Sen.

Turkey has recently warned that it would launch combat operations across its southern border into northeastern Syria against Kurdish forces who have been allied with the the fight against ISIS.

"We have no problems with our Kurdish brothers, Arab brothers in Syria, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious groups". "In the last 36 hours alone, the air force struck storage facilities with Iranian weapons at the Damascus International Airport".

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements", Ryan said.

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