A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) participates in a demonstration in the north-eastern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli on December 28, 2018, against threats from Turkey to carry out a fresh offensive following the US decision to withdraw their troopsImage copyright AFP
Image caption Syrian Kurds have been protesting against Turkish threats to carry out a new offensive

US President Donald Trump has threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if it attacks Kurdish forces in Syria following a planned pullout of US troops.

In two tweets on Sunday, Mr Trump said that he did not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey either.

US forces have fought alongside a Kurdish militia in northern Syria against the Islamic State (IS) group.

Turkey, however, regards the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken angrily about American support for the group and vowed to crush it. Turkey’s foreign minister has said the country “will not be deterred by any threat”.

Mr Trump’s comments on Sunday followed further criticism of his abrupt decision to withdraw US forces from Syria.

A senior figure in Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told the BBC it would have a “negative impact” that would benefit Iran, Russia and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in the Saudi capital Riyadh as he tours the Middle East to reassure US allies in the region.

What did Mr Trump say?

The president defended his decision to withdraw troops, saying any remaining IS fighters could be attacked from the air.

He did not say how Turkey’s economy would suffer if it attacked the YPG.

The US imposed sanctions and trade tariffs on Turkey in August, amid a row over a detained US pastor – contributing to a sharp drop in the value of the Turkish lira. Pastor Andrew Brunson was released in October.

Mr Trump also mentioned the creation of a “20-mile (32km) safe zone”, which the BBC’s Barbara Plett Usher says hints at the kind of solution Mr Pompeo is trying to negotiate.

The president also said that Russia, Iran and Syria had been the biggest beneficiaries of US action in Syria and it was time to bring American soldiers home.

Source: BBC