US House Republicans to Seek Sanctions on Turkey Over Kurd Offensive

October 11, 2019 Updated: October 11, 2019

WASHINGTON—Twenty-nine of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives announced on Oct. 10 they would introduce legislation to impose sanctions against Turkey, underscoring lawmakers’ unhappiness about its assault on Kurdish forces in Syria.

Shortly after the Turkish operation inside Syria had started,a convoy of Turkish forces vehicles is driven through the town of Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border between Turkey and Syria, on Oct. 9, 2019. Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces pulled back from the area, with a series of airstrikes hitting a town on Syria’s northern border.(Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Photo)

A day after Republicans and Democrats announced similar legislation in the Senate, the lawmakers—including Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Whip Steve Scalise, and other party leaders—said they wanted a strong response to Ankara’s aggression.

“President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and his regime must face serious consequences for mercilessly attacking our Kurdish allies in northern Syria,” Republican Representative Liz Cheney, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear how the legislation would fare in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats.

On Sunday, Trump said he was withdrawing U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to launch an assault across the border.

turkey offensive in syria on kurds
Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad after Turkish bombingson the border near Akcakale in the Sanliurfa province on Oct.9, 2019. Turkey launched an assault on Kurdish forces in northern Syria with air strikes and artillery fire reported along the border. (BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Turkey began the offensive quickly, pounding Kurdish militias, who recently were fighting alongside U.S. forces against the ISIS terrorist group, on Wednesday and Thursday, killing dozens and forcing many thousands of people to flee.

In a rare break from Trump, some of his fellow Republicans have sharply criticized the president’s decision.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a co-sponsor of the Senate sanctions package announced on Wednesday, said it was made “completely against everybody else’s advice.”

The House Republicans behind Thursday’s announcements stressed that their intention was to strike back at Ankara in statements that did not criticize Trump.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman

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