President Trump threatened Turkey on Sunday with harsh economic sanctions if it attacks Kurdish forces in Syria after American troops withdraw from the country in the coming months.
“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter, suggesting that there would be a 20-mile safe zone around the group after American forces leave. He added, “Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”
Mr. Trump’s tweets marked the first public threat toward Turkey, a NATO ally, over the Kurds and seemed to offer a blanket of protection for the group, a band of American-backed militias that the Turkish government sees as terrorists.
On Friday, a vaguely worded statement from the American military headquarters in Baghdad, which oversees the fight against the Islamic State, said the withdrawal of the roughly 2,000 American troops in Syria had already begun. Military officials later clarified that only equipment had left the country and not troops.