Will devastate Turkey if it hits Kurdish forces: Trump

Washington: President Donald Trump issued a stern warning to Turkey and said if the NATO-allied nation attacks US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria, US would devastate Turkey economically.

In a surprise move, withdrew 2000 American troops from Syria last month and the same began last week. This has left America’s Kurdish allies vulnerable to an attack from Turkey. Trump also warned ISIS that America would hit them hard if it regains momentum.

The president in a tweet on Sunday said, “Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms.” “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20-mile safe zone…. Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”

Turky President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said that there was no difference between the Islamic State extremist group and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia.

He tweeted, “Mr Donald Trump, Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies. Turkey expects the US to honour our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda. There is no difference between DAESH, PKK, PYD and YPG. We will continue to fight against them all.”

“Mr Donald Trump it is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG. Turkey fights against terrorists, not Kurds. We will protect Kurds and other Syrians against all terrorist threats,” he added.

Turky President Erdogan had recently slammed US National Security Adviser John Bolton for saying the US withdrawal was contingent upon Turkey’s pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once troops leave. He said Bolton made a serious mistake. and that they will not compromise.

“Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long-term US policy of destroying ISIS in Syria – natural enemies. We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!” Trump said.

His announcement has come following a visit to the region by Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “The counterterrorism mission, the effort to make sure that the destruction of ISIS is not only complete but that their resurgence is not possible, our efforts to counter the threat from terrorism stemming from the Islamic Republic of Iran  those are all real missions. The tactical change we’ve made in the withdrawal of those 2,000 troops is just that, a tactical change,” he said.

Replying to a question if Turkey has promised the US not to attack the Kurdish allies, Pompeo said, “We also want to make sure that those in Syria aren’t attacking, terrorists aren’t attacking Turkey from Syria. We’re fully engaged.”

“The United States of America can project military power from lots of places in the world. The absence of a couple thousand soldiers on the ground in Syria in no way materially diminishes the capacity of the United States of America and our amazing Armed Forces to deliver American power to accomplish our objectives anywhere in the world,” he added.

A peaceful uprising against the president of Syria President Bashar al-Assad seven years ago turned into a full-scale civil war. Ground troops first arrived in Syria in 2015 when then-President Barack Obama sent in a small number of special forces to train and advise YPG fighters.

NT Bureau