WASHINGTON (AP)– President Donald Trump’s caution that if Turkey attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria, the United States will “ravage Turkey economically” has actually drawn a sharp response from Ankara and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s representative.

Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria has actually left the United States’ Kurdish allies in the war against the Islamic State group susceptible to an attack from Turkey. Ankara views the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces as terrorists lined up with insurgents inside Turkey.

Turkey’s presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin responded to Trump on Twitter by stating: “Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies.” He also insisted that Turkey “fights versus terrorists, not Kurds” as a people.

In Sunday’s tweet, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to “provoke Turkey.”

The U.S. withdrawal has started with shipments of military equipment, U.S. defense officials said. However in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 soldiers is expected to leave even as the White House says it will keep pressure on the IS network.

Once the troops are gone, the U.S. will have ended 3 years of organizing, arming, advising and providing air cover for Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters in an open-ended campaign created by the Obama administration to deal the militants, likewise referred to as ISIS, an enduring defeat.

” Beginning the long past due pullout from Syria while striking the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many instructions,” Trump tweeted. “Will attack once again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will ravage Turkey financially if they strike Kurds.”

Trump’s choice to leave Syria, which he at first said would be fast however later slowed down, stunned U.S. allies and angered the Kurds in Syria. It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, called the decision a “betrayal of our Kurdish partners.”


Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, added to this report.

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