Turkey will not be intimidated by US threats, Turkish officials say

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
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Turkish officials criticized controversial statements made by U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, saying that Turkey will not be intimidated by threats, while urging the latter to refrain from being allies with terrorists, reiterating once again that Turkey does not have any problems with the Kurds and is only against PKK terrorists and their extensions in Syria.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu responded to Trump's messages by saying that Turkey will not be intimidated by threats and will take necessary measures against the terrorist threat.

Çavuşoğlu noted that Trump has been under tremendous pressure following the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and that his Twitter messages are a matter of domestic politics.

"We have said this over and over again that Turkey will not be intimidated by threats," Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the U.S. should seek a solution rather than threaten Turkey.

Moreover, Çavuşoğlu noted that the idea about establishing a 30 km safe zone was proposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before Trump.

"Mr @realDonaldTrump 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," Kalın said in a tweet on Monday, adding that it is a "fatal mistake" to equate Syrian Kurds with PKK terrorists.

"Turkey fights against terrorists, not Kurds. We will protect Kurds and other Syrians against all terrorist threats," Kalın added.

Presidential spokesman also said there was no difference between Daesh, PKK, PYD and YPG and Ankara would continue to fight them all.

Meanwhile, Presidency Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said Turkey has no problems with the Kurds and that its problem is with the PKK terrorist organization and its Syrian extensions.

"Turkey is not the enemy but the protector of the Kurds," Altun said, adding that the country will continue to fight PYD/YPG terrorists in a determined manner.

Kalın's and Altun's comments on Twitter came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington would "economically devastate" Turkey if Ankara decided to "hit" the PKK's Syrian offshoot People's Protection Units (YPG).

Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, repeatedly said Washington needed to separate terrorists from Syrian Kurds.

Earlier on Monday, Trump on Twitter said the U.S. was starting "long overdue" pullout from Syria and Washington would strike from a nearby existing base if Daesh started to reform.

Trump also said Washington would "economically devastate" Turkey if Ankara decided to strike against the U.S.-backed YPG militants in the region.

The president also warned the YPG to not to provoke Ankara and proposed a 20-mile safe zone.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the death of some 40,000 people, including women and children.

Ankara has been infuriated by U.S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG, under the pretext of fighting against Daesh. The U.S. provided military training and supplied truckloads of weapons to the YPG, disregarding warnings from Ankara that the YPG is organically linked to the PKK, and partnering with one terrorist group to fight another was not acceptable.

Turkey says the weapons are ultimately transferred to the PKK - designated as a terror group by the U.S., Turkey and the EU - and used against Turkey.

Turkey has long signaled an operation on YPG-held areas east of the Euphrates, as Ankara sees the presence of the U.S.-backed group as a threat to its national security.

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