Trump Considering ‘Powerful Sanctions’ Amid Turkey’s Military Operation in Syria

October 13, 2019 Updated: October 13, 2019

Amid claims that Turkey is committing “war crimes” in northern Syria, President Donald Trump on Sunday said that he’s considering “powerful sanctions” as a solution.

The president said he is speaking with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and others in Congress about sanctioning Turkey. The U.S. Treasury “is ready to go” on the sanctions while “additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!”

In an earlier tweet, he said that Turkey and the Kurds have been fighting for a considerable amount of time, saying that Turkey considers the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, to be the “worst terrorists of all.”

“Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!” he tweeted.

The series of comments came after Defense Secretary Mark Esper noted that Turkey may be committing war crimes in the region.

“It appears to be,” Esper agreed on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday when host Margaret Brennan asked about whether its conduct against Kurdish forces constitutes a war crime.

“It’s a very terrible situation over there, a situation caused by the Turks. Despite our opposition, they decided to make this incursion,” Esper said.

Turkey-Syria Conflict
Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, as seen from the Turkish border town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, on Oct. 10, 2019. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)
People look out from an apartment building which was damaged by a rocket fired from Syria, in Nusaybin, Turkey, on Oct. 10, 2019. (Sertac Kayar/Reuters)

Esper also confirmed that about 1,000 U.S. soldiers would be withdrawn from northern Syria.

“Turkey committed this action despite our protestations, all of our warnings,” Esper added. “We are doing what’s in the interest of our service members not to put them in harm’s way.”

On Saturday, the White House announced the United States will send $50 million in stabilization assistance to Syria.

“This funding will provide emergency financial assistance to Syrian human rights defenders, civil society organizations and reconciliation efforts directly supporting ethnic and religious minority victims of the conflict,” the statement from the White House press secretary reads.

Smoke rises from an explosion in the border town of Tel Abyad
Smoke rises from an explosion in the border town of Tel Abyad, Syria, as seen from Akcakale, Turkey on Oct. 9, 2019. (Haberturk/via Reuters TV)

“We hope regional and international partners will continue their contributions as well,” the statement continued. “Ensuring the freedom and safety of ethnic and religious minorities remains a top priority for this Administration.”

Over the weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that sanctions and arms embargoes won’t stop Turkey’s offensive in Syria.

“After we launched our operation, we have faced threats like economic sanctions and embargoes on weapons sales. Those who think they can make Turkey turn back with these threats are gravely mistaken,” Erdogan said in a televised speech via Al Jazeera.

On Thursday, France and Germany announced the embargoes to Turkey.

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