Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

US Moves in Syria Irk Russia, Turkey

US Moves in Syria Irk Russia, Turkey

US President Donald Trump on Sunday (local time) threatened to "devastate Turkey economically" if it attacked the Kurds in the region.

Trump's hasty announcement in December of a USA exit from the war-torn country has caused confusion among allies and adversaries alike, and it also led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

The president also warned the Kurds not to antagonize Turkey in a continuation of his tweet.

Cavusoglu spoke on the phone Saturday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Abu Dhabi as part of a regional tour, and they discussed "the steps that need to be taken" in Syria, he said.

Trump's threat on Sunday came amid tensions between the U.S. and Turkey over the fate of Washington's Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group following his announcement last month that he plans to withdraw USA forces from Syria.

Mr Trump's comments on Sunday followed further criticism of his abrupt decision to withdraw USA forces from Syria.

Last week, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said a planned withdrawal of US troops from Syria was conditional on Turkey promising that it would not attack the YPG.

"Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds", Trump continued. He mentioned a "20-mile safe zone" but again did not give details.

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President Trump shocked allies and faced strong criticism at home last month when he ordered USA forces to immediately begin withdrawing from the approximately 30% of Syria controlled by the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance.

Kurdish officials have said they would like Russian mediation in any talks with the Syrian government. The move came after Trump declared that the "Islamic State" terrorist group had been defeated in Syria.

On December 19, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced that the U.S. started to pull out its troops from Syria.

He called the Syria pullout "long overdue" but said the U.S. would still hit "the little remaining Isis territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions".

The US military, Trump promised, will still use an "existing nearby base", apparently in Iraq, to attack the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants if the terrorist organization re-emerges in Syria.

"The withdrawing from northeast Syria in a strong, deliberate and coordinated manner, and seeks to ensure that the forces that have fought alongside coalition partners in the campaign against ISIS are not mistreated", an administration official said following the president's tweet.

"We also know that those fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", he added. "Stop the ENDLESS WARS!"

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said that several dozen Islamist fighters were among those evacuated to areas held by the Kurdish-Arab alliance.

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