Trump threatens to 'devastate' Turkish economy over Syrian Kurds

30 2018 shows a convoy of US military vehicles driving through Syria's northern city of Manbij | AFP

30 2018 shows a convoy of US military vehicles driving through Syria's northern city of Manbij | AFP

Earlier this week, an administration official told CNN that the first USA military ground equipment has been withdrawn from the war-torn country.

In two tweets on Sunday, Mr Trump said that he didn't want the Kurds to provoke Turkey either.

But, he added, "we also know that those are fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well". In a televised speech in December, he said Turkey's army would be ready "neutralize terrorist organizations" in upcoming months, according to the Financial Times.

"Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements", Ryan said. "They understand that there are squabbles in Washington, but their mission remains, their duties continue and they're executing them".

The US decision has injected new uncertainty into the eight-year-old Syrian war and spurred a flurry of contacts over how the security vacuum will be filled in the swathe of northern and eastern Syria where the US forces are now stationed.

Ankara has repeatedly told Washington that the YPG is not different from the PKK as the groups were intertwined, and partnering with one terrorist group to fight another was not acceptable.

When Pompeo said earlier this month that the USA wants to ensure "the Turks don't slaughter the Kurds", Turkey denounced Pompeo, saying he exhibited "a worrying lack of information".

Pompeo's call with Cavusoglu came as the top USA diplomat continues a marathon Middle East tour, which has taken him to Cairo, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

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

Pompeo's remarks follow tensions between the U.S. and Turkey over the fate of Washington's allies in the fight against ISIS.

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

President Donald Trump last month announced he would withdraw United States forces from Syria, declaring they had succeeded in their mission to defeat IS and were no longer needed.

Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government to start talking to each other in light of the United States withdrawal plans.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the latest tunnel originated from the Lebanese border town of Ramyeh, was 55 meters deep and ran 800 meters inside Lebanese territory and also "dozens" of meters into Israel.

Turkey, however, remains firmly committed to removing what they call a Kurdish "terrorist" threat coming from the Euphrates River valley, and is actively preparing for a possible cross-border operation.

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