Turkey faces ‘powerful sanctions’ by U.S.
Trump threatens to ‘shut down’ its economy over Syrian attacks, but Erdogan won’t ‘step back’
The White House is putting Turkey on notice that it could face new “powerful sanctions” and that the United States will “shut down the Turkish economy” if Ankara goes too far in its incursion against the Kurds in northern Syria.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the White House on Friday that the U.S. hopes it will not have to use its new, expanded sanctions authority President Donald Trump has authorized.
Trump was criticized for pulling back U.S. forces from northern Syria, after which Turkey launched an offensive into Syria against Kurdish forces it sees as terrorists. The U.S.-backed the Kurdish forces that fought against Islamic State (ISIL) fighters and has guarded thousands in detention centres.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday his country “will not take a step back” from its offensive against militants it sees as a national security threat.
Earlier, Turkish authorities said eight civilians were killed in a Turkish border town after a mortar attack from Kurdish-held Syria, bringing the civilian death toll in Turkey since the beginning of its cross-border offensive to 17. The United Nations says an estimated 100,000 people have been displaced three days into the offensive, while markets, schools and clinics have been closed.
In Washington, Defence Secretary Mark Esper said Turkey’s “impulsive” decision to invade northern Syria will further destabilize a region already caught up in civil war. But he said a pullback of U.S. troops from the border does not mean the United States has abandoned its Syrian Kurdish partners.
Washington is “greatly disappointed” by the Turkish incursion, Esper told a Pentagon news conference. He said it has badly damaged already frayed relations with Turkey, a NATO ally ousted from a Pentagon fighter jet program in July for refusing to drop its purchase of a Russian air defence system.
Many have called Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops away from the Turkish border a grave mistake. Even some of his staunchest Republican supporters have sharply criticized the decision and urged him to reconsider.