Trump praises Turkey, vows aid to Syrian Kurds as Turkish offensive looms
U.S. President Donald Trump in a series of tweets on Tuesday praised Turkey as a NATO ally and trading partner, and said Washington would provide aid to Syria’s Kurds as the U.S. pulls out of Syria.
Trump said the U.S. had not abandoned the Kurds and had "great’’ relations with Turkey, which is preparing for an offensive into northern Syria targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish militia.
U.S. troops began withdrawing from positions in northern Syria on Monday, paving the way for a Turkish operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the border area.
Turkey is looking to clear the border region of the YPG, which Ankara sees as an existential threat due to its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is an armed group fighting for self-rule in Turkey for over three decades and has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, the EU and Ankara.
The YPG has beared the brunt of the U.S.-led war on the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region.
"We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters. Likewise our relationship with Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good,’’ the U.S. President wrote on Twitter.
"Turkey already has a large Kurdish population,’’ Trump wrote, referring to the some 15-20 million Kurds in the country, adding that Ankara understands why U.S. forces have left northern Syria.
The U.S president also said that "any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency,’’ repeating a statement from Monday that any Turkish step in Syria deemed "off limits’’ by Washington would lead to devastation of the Turkish economy at the hands of the United States.
The Turkish defence ministry on Tuesday preparations for an offensive in northern Syria have been "completed".
"We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons!’’ Trump added.
The U.S. president also announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would be arriving in Washington for an official visit on Nov. 13.