Trump says he will 'devastate Turkey economically' if it attacks Kurds

Pompeo Says The U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Syria Is Just A 'Tactical Change'

A USA defense official told Fox News on Friday that the US -led military coalition in Syria started the process of removing troops from the region, but wouldn't confirm further details for security purposes.

It also provoked concerns about the safety of Kurdish forces who fought ISIS alongside the U.S.in Syria but are considered terrorists by Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Donald Trump has threatened North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey with economic devastation if Ankara attacks the Kurds after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.

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.

On Saturday, more than 600 people were evacuated from the remaining IS holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said, as US-backed fighters prepared for a final assault on the area. Turkey considers the YPG to be affiliated with the PKK, which is banned by Ankara as a terrorist organisation.

Pompeo stressed those fighting alongside the US are not terrorists and deserve protection.

Erdogan rebuffed a proposed meeting with Bolton in Ankara on January 8, then took to live television instead to insult him for a lack of perspective.

"We also know that those fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", he added.

The Kurdish YPG has been a USA ally in the fight against the Islamic State group and it controls swaths of northern Syria.

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In an interview on Sunday, Pompeo described the removal as a "tactical change" and reasserted USA efforts remain the same.

In a rare acknowledgment that French troops were also in Syria, he said they would leave when there is a political solution in the country.

Mr Trump's decision to withdraw the troops hinges on Turkey's cooperation to secure the northern border.

"We hope we can turn the corner here", Pompeo added.

Just because a "couple thousand uniform personnel" will be leaving Syria, Pompeo said, doesn't mean that US interests have changed.

In a speech in Cairo on Thursday, Pompeo vowed that the United States would "expel every last Iranian boot" from Syria, where Tehran is supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey's president wrote in a New York Times op-ed that Trump "made the right call".

The secretary, who began his trip in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday, is expected to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait before returning to Washington.

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