U.S. will hit Turkey eco­nom­i­cally if coun­try at­tacks Kurds: Trump

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS | WORLD - DEB RIECHMANN

WASHINGTON — U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump warned Sun­day that if Turkey at­tacks U.S.-backed Kur­dish forces in Syria, the United States will “dev­as­tate Turkey eco­nom­i­cally.”

Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull Amer­i­can troops out of Syria has left the United States’ Kur­dish allies vul­ner­a­ble to an at­tack from Turkey. Ankara views the Kur­dish forces as ter­ror­ists aligned with in­sur­gents in­side Turkey.

In a tweet, Trump also warned the Kur­dish forces not to “pro­voke Turkey.”

The U.S. with­drawal has be­gun with ship­ments of mil­i­tary equip­ment, U.S. de­fence of­fi­cials said. But in com­ing weeks, the con­tin­gent of about 2,000 troops is ex­pected to de­part even as the White House says it will keep pres­sure on the IS net­work.

Once the troops are gone, the U.S. will have ended three years of or­ga­niz­ing, arm­ing, ad­vis­ing and pro­vid­ing air cover for Syr­ian, Kur­dish and Arab fight­ers in an open-ended cam­paign de­vised by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to deal the mil­i­tants, also known as ISIS, a last­ing defeat.

“Start­ing the long over­due pullout from Syria while hit­ting the lit­tle re­main­ing ISIS ter­ri­to­rial caliphate hard, and from many di­rec­tions,” Trump tweeted. “Will at­tack again from ex­ist­ing nearby base if it re­forms. Will dev­as­tate Turkey eco­nom­i­cally if they hit Kurds.”

Trump’s de­ci­sion to leave Syria, which he ini­tially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked U.S. allies and an­gered the Kurds in Syria. It also prompted the res­ig­na­tion of De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis and drew crit­i­cism in Congress. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Is­land Demo­crat, called the de­ci­sion a “be­trayal of our Kur­dish part­ners.”

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