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Trump authorizes administration to slap 'significant' sanctions on Turkey

12 October 2019

US President Donald Trump is to authorize wide-ranging sanctions aimed at dissuading Turkey from further offensive military action in northeastern Syria, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday. "We hope we don't have to use them", he said.

President Donald Trump is trying to get ahead of a bipartisan effort in Congress to sanction Turkey after his order to withdraw United States troops from the northeast Syrian border paved the way for Ankara's offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units.

"We are putting financial institutions on notice that they should be careful and that there could be sanctions", he said.

"At this point, we are not activating the sanctions", he added.

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.

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In the days since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Mr. Trump by telephone about pulling American troops out of Syria, several senior American diplomats have said that Mr. Trump made a crucial error by not threatening sanctions ahead of the withdrawal.

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

Trump has been criticized for pulling back USA forces from northern Syria before Turkey's offensive into Syria against Kurdish forces it sees as terrorists.

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

The US this week moved two high-profile ISIL prisoners being held by the Syrian forces out of Syria.

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"We, the U.S. military, have no responsibility to. secure those ISIS prisoners in Syria", Milley said.

"Our position is that this was a mistake for Turkey to do, that we will try our very best to get this thing stopped", the official said.

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.

"The Turkish military is fully aware - down to explicit grid coordinate detail - of the locations of USA forces", he said.

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Trump authorizes administration to slap 'significant' sanctions on Turkey