WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that the United States will “devastate Turkey economically” if Ankara attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.
Turkey has threated to attack the United States’ Kurdish allies fighting Islamic State militants. Ankara views them as terrorists with ties to insurgents within Turkey.
In a tweet on January 14, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to “provoke Turkey.”
Trump said the United States has started what he called the “long, overdue pullout” from Syria while going after IS militants in the remaining territory they hold.
AP quotes unnamed U.S. defense officials as saying they have begun withdrawing shipments of military equipment.
In coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart, AP reported.
Writing on Twitter on January 14, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it was a “fatal mistake” to equate Syrian Kurds with Kurdish militants. He also said Turkey expected the United States to honor their strategic partnership.
Trump’s decision to leave Syria — which he first stated would be quick but later amended to say it would be slower — shocked U.S. allies and angered the Kurds in Syria.
It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress.