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Trump Tells Turkey: 'Don't Mistreat The Kurds'


A convoy of U.S. troops and the People's Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia patrol near Syrian-Turkish border in 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a telephone conversation against attacking Kurdish military units that have been closely allied to U.S. forces in 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," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement on January 14, referring to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Trump and Erdogan also discussed "ongoing cooperation" in Syria, Sanders said.

U.S. forces are set to depart from Syria where they worked closely with the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey considers to have terrorism links.

Earlier on January 14, Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if Ankara attacks the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

In a tweet on January 14, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to "provoke Turkey."

Trump said the United States has started what he called the "long, overdue pullout" from Syria while going after IS militants in the remaining territory they hold.

AP quotes unnamed U.S. defense officials as saying they have begun withdrawing shipments of military equipment.

In the coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart, AP reported.

Trump's decision to leave Syria shocked U.S. allies and angered the Kurds in Syria.

It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, and the BBC
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