United States threatens Turkey with 'very significant' sanctions

Trump authorizes administration to slap 'significant' sanctions on Turkey

President Trump has given his administration the power to place "significant" sanctions on Turkey, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a press conference on Friday.

They said that the United States had "repositioned" an unspecified number of U.S. troops in the region to provide force protection for about 1,000 American troops now based in eastern Syria.

"These are very powerful sanctions".

Mnuchin added that Trump wants to make clear that Turkey can not "allow even a single [Islamic State (IS) group] fighter to escape".

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.

Trump said after a Sunday telephone call with Erdogan that he was informed of the Turkish operation, and had ordered USA forces to withdraw from the target area.

"Now there are threats coming from left and right, telling us to stop this", Erdogan said, AFP reported.

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.

But there was no sense that Turkey would do so, they said.

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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.

Milley said he had just spoken with the chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Yasar Guler, who he said "understands clearly" that the prisoners would be Ankara's responsibility in the areas where it carries out the offensive.

"I'm not seeing any indication or warnings of any planned stoppage of their military activity", said Milley, the top US military officer. He also pushed back against criticism that the USA troop pullback was a green light to Turkey, portraying it instead as a decision taken to protect his forces.

Pentagon officials also stressed the need for Turkey to avoid doing anything to endanger US forces inside Syria, who numbered about 1,000 prior to the incursion.

Milley said Turkey had been told of US positions in Syria.

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

An explosion occurred on Friday near a US military outpost near Kobane in Syria, a USA official said, but no US personnel were reported hurt and the source of the blast was not immediately clear.

Turkey will respond to any US sanctions within the framework of full reciprocity, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Friday. Articles appear on euronews.com for a limited time.

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