United States to 'devastate Turkey economically' if it attacks Syrian Kurds

14 January, 2019, 09:25 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Turkish US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

A USA defense official told Fox News on Friday that the US -led military coalition in Syria started the process of removing troops from the region, but wouldn't confirm further details for security purposes.

Turkey had reacted angrily to suggestions that Trump's plan to withdraw troops was conditional on the safety of the US-backed Kurdish fighters, seen by the Turkish government as terrorists.

President Donald Trump said the United States will "devastate Turkey economically" if the country attacks Kurdish fighters in Syria.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been touring the Middle East this week to reassure allies of Washington's commitment to regional security, said on Saturday he was "optimistic" a way could be found to protect Syrian Kurds while allowing Turks to defend their country despite a US pullout from Syria.

Turkey, which has said it is planning an assault on Islamic State and Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, contends that the Kurdish fighters in Syria are part of a front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

Turkey, however, remains firmly committed to removing what they call a Kurdish "terrorist" threat coming from the Euphrates River valley, and is actively preparing for a possible cross-border operation.

"The withdrawal is based on operational conditions on the ground, including conversation with our allies and partners, and is not be subject to an arbitrary timeline", he said.

"Bolton made a serious mistake".

The delay has restricted Turkey's ability to launch an offensive against the YPG, a group of Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists, but who served as allies to the USA coalition to defeat Islamic State.

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No U.S. personnel have left Syria yet, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

His remarks came in response to Trump's threat to target Turkey's economy if Ankara hits the terror group amid Washington's withdrawal of troops from Syria.

Just because a "couple thousand uniform personnel" will be leaving Syria, Pompeo said, doesn't mean that US interests have changed.

"We hope we can turn the corner here", Pompeo added.

Nor will it stop the United States from trying to get "every Iranian boot out of Syria", Pompeo said.

The president's announcement also accelerated the resignation of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS.

Ibrahim Kalin, Turkey's presidential spokesman, replied, also on Twitter, with a warning for Mr Trump.

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

A senior figure in Saudi Arabia's royal family, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told the BBC it would have a "negative impact" that would benefit Iran, Russia and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

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