Jan 14, 2019 07:07 Asia/Tehran
  • US Syrian Kurdish allies
    US Syrian Kurdish allies

Threat by US President Donald Trump against Turkey draws response from Ankara, warning against 'shadowing' the countries' partnership with 'terrorist propaganda'.

Iran Press/Asia: US President Donald Trump has threatened to "devastate" Turkey's economy if it carries out a military offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria, drawing a response from Ankara which warned Washington against "shadowing" the countries' strategic partnership with "terrorist propaganda".

Trump's threat on Sunday came amid tensions between the US and Turkey over the fate of Washington's Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against the ISIS group following his announcement last month that he plans to withdraw US forces from Syria, Iran Press reported.

"Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria, while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds," he added, while pushing for the creation of a 30km 'safe zone'.

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

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Ankara has long condemned Washington for its military relationship with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), its main ally in the Syria for several years.

Turkey considers the YPG and its political wing, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), to be "terrorist groups" with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey.

"Turkey fights against terrorists, not Kurds. We will protect Kurds and other Syrians against all terrorist threats," Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish presidential spokesperson said on Twitter in response to Trump's threat.

The US withdrawal has begun with shipments of military equipment, according to US defense officials. 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 ISIS network.

Trump's announcement in December raised fears of a long-threatened Turkish assault against the Kurdish fighters.

"If the (pullout) is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, adding that the fight against the YPG does not depend on "anybody's permission". 101/205

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