US prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy, warns Donald Trump

Updated: Oct 16, 2019, 09:33 IST | Agencies |

Orders sanctions, says Washington will immediately stop talks with Ankara on USD 100 bn trade deal

Syrian families fleeing the battle zone in Ras al-Ain on the border with Turkey on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
Syrian families fleeing the battle zone in Ras al-Ain on the border with Turkey on Tuesday. Pic/AFP

Washington: Targeting Turkey's economy, President Donald Trump announced sanctions Monday aimed at restraining the Turks' assault against Kurdish fighters and civilians in Syria — an assault Turkey began after Trump announced he was moving US troops out of the way.

Meanwhile, the Americans were scrambling for Syria's exits, a move criticised at home and abroad as opening the door to a resurgence of the Islamic State fighters who were the reason US forces came in the first place.

The Turks began attacks in Syria last week against Syrian Kurdish fighters, longtime US battlefield allies against IS. In Washington, Trump said he was halting trade negotiations with Turkey and raising steel tariffs. He said he would soon sign an order permitting sanctions to be imposed on current and former Turkish officials. The order will authorise a broad range of measures and the US will immediately stop negotiations with Turkey on a $100 billion trade deal. Steel tariffs will be increased back up to 50 per cent, the level prior to the reduction in May, he said.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

"This (executive) order will enable the US to impose powerful additional sanctions on those who may be involved in serious human rights abuses... forcibly repatriating refugees or threatening the peace, security or stability in Syria," Trump said.

"I'm fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path," he added. Trump also phoned his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to demand an immediate truce, US Vice-President Mike Pence said on Monday. "President Trump communicated to him very clearly that the US wants Turkey to stop the invasion, implement an immediate cease-fire and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to bring an end to the violence," Pence said.

US troops consolidated their positions in northern Syria on Monday and prepared to evacuate equipment in advance of a full withdrawal , a US defence official said. Meanwhile, Erdogan said on Tuesday that the operation against Kurdish militants in would not stop until "our objectives have been achieved".

'God willing, we will quickly secure the region stretching from Manbij to our border with Iraq and ensure that, in the first stage, one million, and then two million Syrian refugees return to their homes of their own free will," Erdogan said. He said 1,000 sq km of Syrian territory had so far been "liberated from the separatist terrorist organisation".

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