US seeks cooperation with Turkey in Syria
US President Donald Trump told his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan , of his wish to work together while US troops are being withdrawn from Syria, a day after threatening to devastate Turkey economically if it attacks the Syrian Kurds.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders reported that Trump had talked with Erdogan on Monday about various bilateral matters, including their cooperation as United States troops begin moving out of Syria.
“The president expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey’s security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the United States that Turkey does not mistreat the Kurds and other Syrian Democratic Forces with whom we have fought to defeat ISIS ,” the White House spokeswoman said in a brief statement.
With that official message, Trump seemed to back off from his surprising threat on Twitter the night before that the US would “devastate Turkey economically” if it attacks Kurdish forces in Syria.
After that warning, the Turkish government answered through its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said Monday that “strategic partners” should not communicate on Twitter.
“We are not scared of and will not be intimidated by any threats...Economic threats against Turkey will get you nowhere,” he said at a press conference in Ankara.
Çavusoglu also repeated his country’s intention to carry out a military offensive in northeastern Syria, whose principal objective is to force the withdrawal of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militias, up to now allies of Washington in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
Erdogan announced last December that he plans to launch an offensive in northern Syria against the YPG militias, which he considers a terrorist group because of its ties with the Kurdish PKK guerrillas in Turkey.