Trump threatens to 'devastate' Turkey's economy if they attack 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

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday that he was optimistic the United States and Turkey would reach an agreement on how to protect YPG troops in Syria.

President Trump's unexpected announcement last month that troops would leave the country has fueled fears that a power vacuum could strengthen ISIS and cede influence in the region to Iran and Russian Federation.

Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

Mr Pompeo said a phone call with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu involved several elements of US-Turkey relations, including Syria and the detention of Americans in Turkey. "We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home".

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

Turkey, however, regards the People's Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists. National Security Advisor John Bolton even said that United States forces will not leave Syria until Turkey guarantees the safety of the US-backed Kurdish militias.

Erdogan said Bolton was making a "serious mistake".

The threat is still "very real", though, according to Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the USA -led coalition, Reuters reported.

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The president also vowed that the U.S.

Kurdish-led groups who control swathes of northern Syria fear an attack from Turkey in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from their region.

Kurds and Christians in the northeast region "have tried to put together this pluralistic model which is based on secularism", he told NPR.

"We have achieved the goal that we set out to achieve", he said. "We will be like second-class citizens at best, if we survive as Syriac Christians and Kurds". Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with insurgents inside Turkey.

Pompeo said Friday that Washington recognized "the Turkish people's right and Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists". He described a "big and growing" coalition to exert pressure on Iran.

In Riyadh, the secretary of state is expected to discuss Iran and the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, US media report, as well as seeking an update on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump said the removal of troops, which he announced via Twitter in December, is happening "while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions".

Trump's hasty announcement in December of a USA exit from the war-torn country has caused confusion among allies and adversaries alike, and it also led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

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