Pompeo says Trump's Turkey threat won't alter Syria troop withdrawal

He said in Ankara's view there is "no difference" between the Kurdish YPG militia, which has led the US -backed opposition Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and ISIS, and that Turkey would "continue to fight against them all".

President Donald Trump said the United States will "devastate Turkey economically" if the country attacks Kurdish fighters in Syria. At the same time, according to the U.S. president, Washington does not "want the Kurds to provoke Turkey".

Turkey has reacted angrily to suggestions that Trump's withdrawal plan was conditional on the safety of the Kurdish militants.

Syrian Kurdish group the YPG has been working with United States forces to fight ISIS, and has been one of the biggest US-allied fighters operating in Syria in the civil war, CNN reported.

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

In response to Trump's threat, Turkey made threats of its own, calling Trump's support of the YPG a "fatal mistake".

The move came after Trump declared that the "Islamic State" terrorist group had been defeated in Syria. It is now threatening to strike east of the river, which it has avoided until now - partly to avoid direct confrontation with US forces.

TRT World spoke with Turkish political analyst Yusuf Erim on Erdogan-Trump phone conversation, who said, "It was definitely a needed phone call after this morning's Twitter rant by president of the USA". On Friday, the US-led coalition said it had started the pullout, but officials later said it involved only equipment, not troops.

Since Trump's announcement, senior members of his administration including Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have frustrated Turkey by setting more specific conditions on what Trump initially suggested would be a quick withdrawal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his American counterpart Donald Trump have spoken over phone on the fate of Kurdish fighters that has triggered a war of words between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Mustafa Bali, SDF media office head, said the SDF had stepped up attacks in the past two days and taken control of the area between the IS enclave and the Iraqi border, cutting off an escape route.

Abdulaziz Sager, Chairman and Founder of the Gulf Research Center, told Al Arabiya English that Pompeo's statements sent a strong message in assuring that the "Kurds will be protected".

The pullout was reportedly sparked after a phone conversation between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

All this is thanks to President Donald Trump's recent snap decision to withdraw US military forces from Syria; an inevitable (and correct) outcome given that post-ISIS Syria is not a vital USA national security interest and there was never enough political will-under this administration or the previous one-to fight an open-ended conflict in Syria for goals with indeterminate outcomes.

He added: "Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds", but then followed but up in a second tweet: "Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey".

So far the USA military has only started to move equipment out of Syria.

Trump's decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked USA allies and angered the Kurds in Syria. October 5th 2016 - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu holds a press conference.

Trump and Erdogan also discussed "ongoing cooperation" in Syria, Sanders said.

  • David Armstrong