Published: Fri, October 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Trump to host Turkish leader as he considers invading Syria

Trump to host Turkish leader as he considers invading Syria

Turkey considers the Kurdish separatist fighters to be terrorists, since they have been linked to attacks on the government in Turkey.

Mr Trump's statements have reverberated on all sides of the divide in Syria and the Mideast.

The Turkish operation began after US President Donald Trump announced on Sunday night that the US would pull its troops from the border region, essentially allowing Turkey to begin military operations against against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria.

On Monday Trump warned he would "obliterate" Turkey's economy if it took action in Syria he considered "off limits".

"Any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency", he tweeted. He also said Turkey makes the steel frame for the U.S.'s F-35 fighter, without mentioning that the Pentagon suspended Turkey from participating in the multinational project after Erdogan purchased an anti-aircraft missile system from Russian Federation over Washington's objections.

"If they do anything outside what we would think is humane. they could suffer the wrath of an extremely decimated economy", Mr. Trump told reporters later in the day.

The US move will leave its Kurdish-led partner forces in Syria vulnerable to an incursion by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), which brands them terrorists due to their links to Kurdish militants who have waged a long insurgency in Turkey.

Turkey on Tuesday sent more armoured vehicles to the border with Syria, an AFP correspondent said, after the defence ministry said Ankara was ready for a cross-border offensive.

Trump, in a break with many Republicans, has called for less USA military involvement overseas and says U.S. troops completed their mission in Syria of fighting the Islamic State movement.

"The homeland welcomes all its sons, and Damascus will solve all Syrian problems in a positive way, away from violence", Mekdad said in an interview with the pro-government daily Al-Watan.

Turkey refers to the stretch of territory run by the USA -allied Syrian Kurdish fighters as a "terror corridor" and calls it an existential threat.

The SDF, led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), has denounced Washington's move as a "stab in the back".

"Unfortunately, Turkey has chosen to act unilaterally".

In a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday, Turkish communications director Fahrettin Altun called on the global community to "rally" behind Ankara, calling the Kurds "armed thugs" from which the local population needed to be liberated. "Participants of the meeting have noted that, at this stage, it was important for everyone to avoid any action that could create obstacles to a peaceful settlement in Syria", the Kremlin said on its website. The Kurds stand to lose the autonomy they gained from Damascus during Syria's civil war, now in its ninth year, and could see Turkey seize much of the territory where the Kurdish population is concentrated.

Erdogan also vowed to establish a safe zone and ensure the safe return of millions of refugees now living in Turkey.

Kurdish authorities in Syria called a general mobilization on Wednesday in anticipation of the Turkish operation. Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

Mr Trump has faced a barrage of criticism, including from close allies in Washington, for appearing to leave the Kurds to their fate. It was reported the Pentagon was "completely blindsided" by the order.

Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Tuesday that "Despite continued misreporting to the contrary", President Trump had over the last several days consulted with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley "regarding the situation and efforts to protect US forces in northern Syria in the face of military action by Turkey".

The Syrian Kurdish force has pledged to fight back, raising the potential for an eruption of new warfare in Syria.

Around 2,000 of them are IS "foreign fighters", and Mr Trump assailed U.S. allies in Europe for not taking back their nationals.

"The decision was made without consulting US allies or senior US military leadership and threatens to affect future partnerships at precisely the time we need them most", retired Gen. Joseph Votel, who led US Central Command from March 2016 to March 2019, wrote in an opinion piece in The Atlantic.

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