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USA to 'devastate Turkey economically' if it attacks Syrian Kurds

14 January 2019

Earlier this week Pompeo told reporters in Iraq that U.S. President Donald Trump is determined to withdraw American soldiers from Syria and his decision is very clear, addressing concerns as to whether Turkey's refusal to fulfill any preconditions to the withdrawal would put the move at risk.

Once the troops are gone, the USA 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 ISIS a lasting defeat.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday sought to reassure Washington's Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS, who fear the departure of American troops would allow Turkey to attack them.

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.

Trump promised the USA will hit Turkey financially if Ankara attacks the Kurds, but noted in a follow-up tweet that he does "not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey".

Turkey's foreign minister and his US counterpart spoke over the phone, Turkish diplomatic sources announced on Saturday.

Trump did not detail who would create, enforce or pay for the safe zone, or where it would be located.

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More than 600 people, mainly women and children, were evacuated on 25 buses sent by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been strained over USA backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.

A defeat of the jihadists in the enclave would wipe out IS's territorial foothold on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

On Saturday, more than 600 people were evacuated from the remaining IS holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said, as US-backed fighters prepared for a final assault on the area.

Trump's decision to call back USA troops in Syria, who were first deployed in 2015, was followed a day later by the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who wrote a letter to the president saying he had the right to have a secretary of defense "whose views are better aligned with yours". "Will attack [ISIS] again from existing nearby base if it reforms".

Mr Pompeo said the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria was a "tactical change" but the mission to destroy Islamic State and counter Iran's influence remained the same.

"We also know that those who aren't terrorists, those who were fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", Pompeo said. "Stop the ENDLESS WARS!"

USA to 'devastate Turkey economically' if it attacks Syrian Kurds