Lawmakers press again for stronger Trump action on Turkey


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Friday that President Donald Trump will sign an executive order imposing sanctions on Turkey over its offensive in Syria, but that the measures won't immediately be implemented.

Trump Sunday announced the USA would be pulling troops out of northern Syria that had kept Turkish and Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State apart. "This is a way of making sure we protect the humanitarian issues, and the people on the ground".

Lawmakers of both parties have questioned whether Trump gave Turkey a "green light", and called on him to press Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop the operation.

"It is a complicated situation", Mr. Mnuchin said.

In addition to putting United States partners "in harms way", he said that it "risks the security of (prisoner) camps and will put the region in danger". The YPG is a group that leads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and has been a USA ally against Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

He and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff, said that Turkey continued air and artillery attacks on a zone about 20 miles deep along the northeastern Syrian border, and that ground forces have entered up to 6-7 miles into Syria in some places.

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A Treasury Department press release said the sanctions threat is meant to "dissuade Turkey from any further offensive military action in northeast Syria, including but not limited to indiscriminate targeting of civilians, targeting of civilian infrastructure, targeting of ethnic or religious minorities, or targeting or other actions that undermine the continued counterterrorism activities" of the US-backed Syrian Kurds.

Kurdish forces have, until many took off for the front lines against Turkey, provided protection for USA installations. "These are very powerful sanctions, we hope we don't have to use them, but we can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to".

Of those options, the president said he favoured sanctions.

On Thursday, a senior State Department official said the USA would not stand for "inhumane" and "disproportionate" activity by the Turks, which would "include ethnic cleansing" and "indiscriminate artillery, air and other fires directed at civilian populations".

A senior Turkish official denied that the US gave the Turkish government a green light for the operation.

Earlier, Engel and McCaul had introduced a resolution expressing strong support for Kurdish forces in Syria and recognizing their contribution to the fight against Islamic State. "We are witnessing ethnic cleansing in Syria by Turkey, the destruction of a reliable ally in the Kurds, and the reemergence of ISIS", he said.