Turkey ignores Trump as Syria bombing starts
Donald Trump has threatened to destroy Turkey’s economy over its strikes against US allies in Syria.
But Turkish planes have reportedly begun bombing Kurdish forces in Syria, the day after the US announced it was withdrawing troops from the region.
The bombing started late yesterday (Monday) with Turkish jets targeting the Semelka checkpoint at the Iraqi border in northeast Syria, according to the Turkish media.
There were also reports of artillery bombardment near the border of Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
Trump tweeted that he would “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy following his Sunday decision to withdraw 50 members of US special forces from northeastern Syria.
The withdrawal leaves Kurdish forces in Syria vulnerable to the Turkish military, which calls them terrorists.
“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)” Trump posted on Twitter, using his trademark lack of modesty.
The US has about 1,000 personnel in Syria.
Trump said he had told Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call that he could face the “wrath of an extremely decimated economy”.
Erdogan said yesterday that his forces were ready to strike against Kurdish militants “at any moment”.
But Erdogan has also said he planned to visit Washington to meet Trump in early November to discuss a Syrian “safe zone” in Syria and to resolve a dispute over F-35 fighter jets, which he is now unable to buy.
Turkey’s lira fell more than 2 per cent against the dollar.
Trump appears to be talking tough to shift responsibility for the Turkish incursion away from his troop withdrawal.
He tweeted: “It is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out.”
The withdrawal was denounced as a “stab in the back” by Kurdish forces who have been the most capable partners in fighting Isis in Syria.
“They abandoned us in the middle of struggle against Isis,” General Mazloum Ebdi, commander of the majority Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, told ABC News.
Ebdi warned that the Turkish offensive could lead to ethnic cleansing and the US withdrawal “hurt the credibility” of Washington. “When you broke or hurt the credibility or the confidence, it’s not an easy thing to recover it,” the general said through an interpreter.
Turkey refuses to consider the creation of a Kurdish state on its southern border. Picture credit: Flickr