We'll devastate Turkey economically if they 'hit Kurds'

30 2018 shows a convoy of US military vehicles driving through Syria's northern city of Manbij | AFP

Earlier this week, an administration official told CNN that the first USA military ground equipment has been withdrawn from the war-torn country.

"Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds", Trump continued.

But, he added, "we also know that those fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well". Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

The announcement of a pullout is fueling concern about how quickly the USA will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by Trump administration officials on an exit timetable.

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Speaking in the United Arab Emirates, Mr Pompeo said he thought it would be possible to reach an agreement which would allow the Turks to defend themselves from terror threats while protecting Kurds - who have been fighting alongside USA troops - against the so-called Islamic State group.

A US-led coalition of over 70 member-nations has been conducting military operations against the Daesh terror group in Syria and Iraq.

Residents near border crossings that are typically used by USA forces going in and out of Syria from Iraq said they had seen no obvious or large-scale movement of U.S. ground forces on Friday.

So far the U.S. military has only started to move equipment out of Syria.

The previous week, Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton had announced that Washington would withdraw its troops from Syria only after defeating ISIS and ensuring that the Kurds are safe. Erdogan called his comments "a serious mistake".

Trump took to Twitter to reveal some of his latest thoughts in the slow drip-drip of information being released by his administration after his shocking December announcement of the troop withdrawal, AFP reported.

Russia, which has deployed forces into Syria in support of the Damascus regime, said it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay despite the announced withdrawal of USA troops, RIA news agency reported.

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

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said the USA recognised "the Turkish people's right and Mr Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been strained over United States backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.

Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government to start talking to each other in light of the U.S. withdrawal plans.

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