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Turkey advances farther into Syria after Trump sanctions

Turkey advances farther into Syria after Trump sanctions

Turkey advanced its assault in northeastern Syria on Tuesday after President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE announced sanctions over its military campaign.

Syrian fighters backed by Ankara said they would continue their advance toward the city of Manbij, a key flashpoint west of the Euphrates River, according to Reuters. A Reuters cameraman also reported heavy bombing of the Syrian border town of Ras al Ain, where a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group largely made up of Kurdish fighters, reported an ongoing battle was taking place.

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Ankara is currently waging an offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria that it alleges are tied to an anti-Turkish insurgency. Its operation, which is targeting groups that allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS, has sparked bipartisan condemnation in Washington.

Trump said in a statement Monday he is slapping sanctions on government officials in Ankara and “any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.” The sanctions targeted the Turkish Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the leaders of those two agencies and the head of the Ministry of the Interior. 

The sanctions include an increase on steel tariffs from 25 percent to 50 percent and a halt in trade negotiations with Turkey.

“Turkey’s military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region,” said Trump. “I have been perfectly clear with President Erdoğan: Turkey’s action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes.” 

“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path.”

Critics of the sanctions said they were too little, too late, with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP blocks Schumer effort to adjourn Senate until after election GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (D-Calif.) saying the package "falls very short of reversing that humanitarian disaster."

"President Trump gave Turkey the green light to attack our Kurdish partners, betraying the thousands of fighters who gave their lives to keep the world safe from the barbarism of ISIS," Pelosi said in the statement. "His erratic decision-making is threatening lives, risking regional security and undermining America’s credibility in the world." 

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, which removed the chief deterrent to Turkey’s operation, drew bipartisan ire on Capitol Hill, with many saying it paved the way for the offensive. The Pentagon on Monday announced the official withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria. 

“Due to Turkey's irresponsible actions, the risk to U.S. forces in northeast Syria has reached an unacceptable level. We are also at risk of being engulfed in a broader conflict,” Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Supreme Court to hear case on diversion of Pentagon funds to border wall | Biden campaign cutting retired general from ad after objection | Trump's arms control talks with Russia hit wall Biden campaign removing retired general from ad after his complaint Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump's Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy MORE said in a statement, adding that "a small footprint" of U.S. forces will remain at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria "to continue to disrupt remnants of ISIS."