ISTANBUL (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Monday Turkey expected the United States to honour their strategic partnership after U.S. President Donald Trump warned it would devastate Turkey economically if they attack a Kurdish militia in Syria.
Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained over U.S. backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that is waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.
“Mr @realDonaldTrump It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.
“Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies. Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda,” he said.
Trump tweeted earlier about the United States starting its pullout from Syria, while hitting the remaining Islamic State fighters there.
“Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone…Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey,” Trump wrote.
The Kurdish YPG has been a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group and it controls swaths of northern Syria. Erdogan has vowed to crush it in the wake of Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of the region.
Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Paul Tait