Trump says he will 'devastate Turkey economically' if it attacks Kurds

Turkish US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

In a tweet on Sunday, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to "provoke Turkey".

A USA defense official told Fox News on Friday that the US -led military coalition in Syria started the process of removing troops from the region, but wouldn't confirm further details for security purposes.

The United States President announced on Twitter on Sunday that the U.S. had begun withdrawing its approximately 2000 troops from northeast Syria but said the USA would maintain forces in neighbouring Iraq. "Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms", Trump said, using a different acronym for IS.

Trump's decision to withdraw troops has been clouded by mixed messages from Washington since it was abruptly announced last month, catching off guard allies including the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces militia.

Once the troops are gone, the USA will have ended three years of organizing, arming, advising and providing air cover for Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters in an open-ended campaign devised by the Obama administration to deal ISIS a lasting defeat.

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

Pompeo had earlier said Washington recognized "the Turkish people's right and (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

Senior US officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest.

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Pompeo said his phone call with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu involved several elements of U.S. -Turkey relations, including Syria and the detention of Americans in Turkey.

Trump also appeared to propose a 20 mile safe zone on the Turkey-Syria border so as to prevent clashes between the Turkish military and Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. "We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home".

"We have no problems with our Kurdish brothers, Arab brothers in Syria, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious groups".

After media reports suggesting the departure of U.S. forces had begun, the Pentagon later said no troops had yet withdrawn and stressed that the battle against ISIS was continuing as US-backed forces try to capture the group's last remaining pockets of territory in Syria.

"It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the U.S. terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG", Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish presidential spokesperson said on Twitter in response to Trump's threat.

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting opposition groups and terrorist organizations.

"We stand to lose our way of life, we also stand to lose our property and our livelihood", said Ishak.

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