WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump warned Turkey on Sunday of economic devastation if it attacks Kurdish forces in the wake of the US troop pullout from Syria, while also urging the Kurds not to “provoke” Ankara, reports AFP.
Trump took to Twitter to reveal some of his latest thoughts in the slow drip-drip of information being released by his administration after his shocking December announcement of the troop withdrawal.His top diplomat Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring allies amid rising tensions between the US and Turkey over the fate of Washington’s Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.
Pompeo also sought to reassure Washington’s Kurdish allies in the fight against IS, who fear the departure of American troops would allow Turkey to attack them.
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.
“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” Trump tweeted, while pushing for the creation of a 20-mile (30-kilometer) “safe zone.”
“Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”
Trump did not detail who would create, enforce or pay for the safe zone, or where it would be located.US-led operations against IS in Syria have been spearheaded on the ground by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Ankara sees the backbone of that alliance, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.
Meanwhile, Turkey on Monday vowed to keep up the fight against a US-backed Kurdish militia it views as terrorists after Donald Trump warned of economic devastation if Ankara attacks Kurdish forces as American troops withdraw.
Trump’s threat came after Ankara repeatedly threatened a new cross-border operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which have working closely with the United States in the war on Islamic State extremists.
US support to the YPG has been a major source of tension between the NATO allies.