Donald Trump threatens Turkey with economic devastation if it attacks Syrian Kurds

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The speech sought to lay out the Trump administration's strategy for the Middle East and criticized former U.S. President Barack Obama, without naming him, for "fundamental misunderstandings" about the Middle East.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was optimistic Syrian Kurds could be protected while also assuring Turkey of its right to defend itself against what it sees as terrorists.

Trump's threat on Sunday came amid tensions between the U.S. and Turkey over the fate of Washington's Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group following his announcement last month that he plans to withdraw USA forces from Syria. Lindsey Graham also said that there are some elements among the Kurds in Syria who pose a legitimate national security threat to Turkey and that hopes to have a meeting with Erdoğan to discuss the situation in the war-torn country.

"Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds", Trump wrote in a Tweet late on Sunday, without elaborating.

"We find correct his statement about the removal of the elements that concern Turkey", Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a speech in the southern Turkish province of Antalya.

US-led operations against Isis in Syria have been spearheaded on the ground by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been strained over US 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.

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Kurdish officials have said they would like Russian mediation in any talks with the Syrian government.

More than 600 people had been evacuated from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group's remaining holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said, as United States-backed fighters prepare for a final assault on the area. "If they are terrorists, we will do what is necessary no matter where they came from", Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week. "Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms", Trump said, using a different acronym for IS.

Pompeo also said the withdrawal of US troops from Syria was a "tactical change" and does not alter U.S.' military capacity to counter Daesh and Iran. "We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!" he continued.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said that several dozen Islamist fighters were among those evacuated to areas held by the Kurdish-Arab alliance.

An estimated 2,000 civilians remain trapped in the area around the town of Hajin, the United Nations said.

"We will do whatever is needed to clear terror across our border", he said.

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