Trump hits Turkey with sanctions, calls for ceasefire
Trump promises to
swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Ankara continues down 'dangerous and
destructive path' in Syria.
Turkey launched the cross-border assault on Kurdish fighters last Wednesday after Trump withdrew some US troops from the region, drawing sharp criticism from fellow Republicans who accused him of abandoning allies who had helped him fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group.
Turkey says the offensive
aims to remove the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from the border
area and create a "safe zone" to which millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
Ankara considers the Kurdish People's Protection Group (YPG),
which forms the backbone of the SDF, a "terrorist" group linked to
Kurdish separatists inside Turkey.
Trump said he would send Vice President Mike Pence and National
Security Advisor Robert O'Brien to Ankara as soon as possible in an attempt to
Pence said Trump had spoken directly to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who promised not attack the border town of Kobane.
"President Trump communicated to him very clearly that the
United States of America wants Turkey to stop the invasion, implement an
immediate ceasefire and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to
bring an end to the violence," Pence said.
The sanctions apply to individuals, entities or associates of the
Turkish government involved in "actions that endanger civilians or lead to
the further deterioration of peace, security and stability in northeast
Syria", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
In his sanctions announcement, Trump said he was halting negotiations on a
$100bn trade deal with Turkey and raising steel tariffs back up to 50 percent.
The president also imposed sanctions on three senior Turkish officials and
Turkey's defence and energy ministries.
In a statement announcing the move, Trump said he was "fully
prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down
this dangerous and destructive path".
Trump said Turkey's military offensive was "endangering
civilians and threatening peace, security and stability in the region".
According to the US Treasury, Turkish Minister of Defence Hulusi
Akar, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, and Energy Minister Fatih Donmez were
placed on the department's sanctions blacklist, freezing their assets in the United States and banning US or US-related transactions with them.