Monday, 21 October, 2019

U.S. threatens Turkey with 'very significant' sanctions

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Patty Aguilar | 12 October, 2019, 02:56

The Trump administration on Friday belatedly threatened new sanctions against Turkey that officials said could cripple Turkey's economy in response to its military offensive against Kurds in northern Syria.

Mnuchin said that the Department of Defense and the State Department would continue to monitor the Turkey military action for any humanitarian violations.

"These are very powerful sanctions". However, Mnuchin also said the Trump administration hopes to avoid using the sanctions even as he vowed that the United States "can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to".

Mnuchin said Trump was concerned about any potential targeting of civilians by Turkish forces, and wants to make clear that Turkey can not "allow even a single ISIS fighter to escape".

Mr. Trump insists he did not greenlight the attack in his phone call last weekend with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"No one should doubt that Turkey will respond tit-for-tat to possible U.S. sanctions", said spokesman Hami Aksoy, responding to a statement by the U.S. Treasury Department on possible sanctions against Turkey in relation to its anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

Meanwhile, the US Pentagon strongly denied on Friday accusations that it had abandoned its Syrian Kurdish allies to a Turkish military onslaught, which it said was destabilising the region and doing "dramatic harm" to US-Turkey relations.

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Esper and US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said they had spoken with their Turkish counterparts repeatedly in recent days, asking them to stop.

He said that Turkey's operations were defensive and legal under the charters of both the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, to which to which Turkey belongs.

Esper insisted, as have other officials, that anti-ISIS operations by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Force outside the incursion zone have not stopped, and that no prisoners were known to have escaped.

"Our position is that this was a mistake for Turkey to do, that we will try our very best to get this thing stopped", the official said.

"This decision was made to ensure American troops were not caught up in the fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces", he said.

Turkey will respond to any USA sanctions within the framework of full reciprocity, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Friday.

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