Erdogan: Trump reaffirms Syria pullout, safe zone

ANKARA (AA): In a phone call this week, the U.S. president reaffirmed the American troop pullout from Syria, as well as a 32-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone in Syria to be established by Turkey, said Turkey’s president on Tuesday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the remarks in an address to lawmakers of his Justice and Development (AK) Party at parliament in the capital Ankara.

On Monday Erdogan held a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, discussing the idea of a terror-free safe zone in northern Syria.

Erdogan said he told Trump that Turkey embraces all people in Syria without any discrimination.

“We also told him that the PKK/YPG tortures the groups in Syria that do not depend on them. We also said that we have given all document on this issue to his advisers,” Erdogan said.

He added that the two presidents agreed to increase the Turkish-U.S. trade volume to $75 billion.

The phone call came after Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” conflating “Kurds” with the terrorist PKK/YPG, a conflation that Turkey has repeatedly criticized.

Turkey has dealt a heavy blow to the terrorist PKK/YPG in Afrin, Syria, and it will soon move to eliminate terrorist groups east of the Euphrates River, Erdogan added.

Erdogan also called on Kurds not to be fooled by terror groups, adding: “I call on my Kurdish brothers. You should not be deceived by this game… Turkey is the country of my Kurdish brothers as well.”

Following the surprise announcement in December that U.S. forces would leave Syria, U.S. officials said the withdrawal was conditional on Turkey not attacking the “Kurds,” meaning the terrorist PKK/YPG.

Turkish officials blasted the U.S. conflation of “Kurds” with the terror group, saying an expected Turkish operation in Syria will target a terrorist group which threatens Arabs, Turkmens, and Kurds in Syria alike.

In its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives. The PKK/PYD/YPG is its Syrian branch.