Trump warns Turkey faces 'economic devastation' if Kurds attacked

Pompeo Says The U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Syria Is Just A 'Tactical Change'

The Turkish official's remark follows President Trump's statement on Twitter in which he threatened to "devastate Turkey economically" if Ankara hits Kurdish forces in Syria.

The announcement of a pullout is fueling concern about how quickly the USA will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by Trump administration officials on an exit timetable.

US support for a Syrian-led Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units that Turkey considers a foe is the source of one rift.

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring Washington's Kurdish allies in the fight against Isis.

But Mr Trump attempted to reassure both Syrian Kurds and observers anxious about a potential ISIS resurgence, saying USA troops would remain across the border in Iraq to enforce a 20 mile safe zone.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is defending President Trump's decision to remove US troops from Syria.

Several weeks later, national security adviser John Bolton said the withdrawal will have a longer timeline, and will not be undertaken until Kurdish fighters are protected and ISIS is defeated in the war-torn country.

"Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey". He proposed creating a 20-mile safe zone to protect the Kurds.

Efforts to destroy IS in Syria have been dominated by the Syrian Democratic Forces, whose members are mostly Kurds.

Ankara sees the YPG Kurdish fighting units of the SDF as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish PKK movement that for decades has waged an insurgency inside Turkey.

Bolton said last week that as a precondition for US withdrawal, the protection of YPG terrorists must be assured, which drew fire from Turkish politicians, including top government officials. "We would take necessary steps against terrorists near our borders, and we will decide the timing on our own", Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said late Saturday at a meeting in southern Antalya province.

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

"Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term US policy of destroying ISIS in Syria - natural enemies", he wrote online. "Stop the ENDLESS WARS!"

Mr Abdel Rahman said some 16,000 people, including 760 ISIS fighters, had fled the area since the start of December.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said that around 25,000 people had fled the violence over the last six months as IS's last fighters in the country battled to defend their dwindling territory.

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