Turkey hits back at Trump's vow to defend Kurdish militia

Turkey hits back at Trump's vow to defend Kurdish militia

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

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly lashed out at U.S. national security adviser John Bolton for saying the USA withdrawal was contingent upon Turkey's pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once troops leave.

President Donald Trump warned Sunday that if Turkey attacks USA -backed Kurdish forces in Syria, the United States will "devastate Turkey economically".

Speaking in the United Arab Emirates, Mr Pompeo said he thought it would be possible to reach an agreement which would allow the Turks to defend themselves from terror threats while protecting Kurds - who have been fighting alongside U.S. troops - against the so-called Islamic State group.

In an apparent gesture to save face, following a questionable outcome of four years of uninvited American presence in Syria and an abrupt withdrawal, Trump has once-again credited the United States military for destroying IS, disregarding the fact that most of the country was liberated from terrorists by the Syrian army, with the help of the Russian military. 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.

Asked about SDF progress, the spokesman for the USA -led coalition, Colonel Sean Ryan, said: "The SDF is making great progress and continues to liberate more territory once held by ISIS (Islamic State), but the fight continues".

Erdogan said Bolton was making a "serious mistake".

The delay has restricted Turkey's ability to launch an offensive against the YPG, a group of Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists, but who served as allies to the US coalition to defeat Islamic State.

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Since then, US officials have given mixed messages.

Pompeo told reporters that he spoke with Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on Saturday.

Similarly to Pompeo, Republican U.S. Sen.

But a US defense official has denied that it was withdrawing any troops from Syria, telling VOA the initial stages of the pull-out involve "equipment, not troops".

Trump's decision to withdraw the troops hinges on Turkey's cooperation to secure the northern border.

"We hope we can turn the corner here", Pompeo added.

What has Mike Pompeo said?

The president's announcement also accelerated the resignation of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS. Stressing that Turkey has a significant position with regard to coming up with a solution and taking steps for stability in Syria, Çavuşoğlu said active diplomacy and efforts to prevent humanitarian crises have made the country a major player in world diplomacy. "They understand that there are squabbles in Washington, but their mission remains, their duties continue and they're executing them".

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