Trump and Erdogan discuss Syria

Turkish President and US President discuss creation of "security zone" in north Syria.

Elad Benari ,

Trump and Erdogan
Trump and Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump on Monday discussed the creation of a "security zone" in north Syria as tensions rose over the fate of Kurdish fighters in that country, AFP reports.

In a telephone conversation, the leaders "discussed the idea of creating a security zone cleared of terrorism in the north of the country," the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Trump also noted the conversation with Erdogan in a post on Twitter.

“Spoke w/ President Erdogan of Turkey to advise where we stand on all matters including our last two weeks of success in fighting the remnants of ISIS, and 20 mile safe zone. Also spoke about economic development between the U.S. & Turkey - great potential to substantially expand!” Trump wrote.

The conversation between Trump and Erdogan came one day after Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if it harms the Kurds after the US withdraws its troops from Syria.

Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, later responded to Trump's threat in a tweet of his own.

"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. There is no difference between DAESH, PKK, PYD and YPG. We will continue to fight against them all," he tweeted.

The US’s main ally on the ground fighting ISIS in Syria, the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have held emergency talks with Moscow and Damascus over fears that Turkey will use the US withdrawal to launch on offensive.

The Syrian Democratic Forces are led by led by the People's Protection Units (YPG), a mostly Kurdish militia. The US makes a distinction between the YPG and the PKK, but Turkey does not and has more than once expressed its outrage over the American support for YPG, which it views as a terrorist organization.

On Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was "optimistic" that a way could be found to protect Syrian Kurds while allowing Turks to "defend their country from terrorists" following the US pullout from Syria.