Let Kurds be, Trump warns Turkey
WASHINGTON — 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. 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. defense 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 Islamic State 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 President Barack Obama’s administration to deal the militants 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.”
Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, reiterated that Turkey considered the Kurdish fighters terrorists.
“Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda,” he wrote.
Information for this article was contributed by Thomas Gibbons-Neff of The New York Times.