Turkey says it will not stop offensive as U.S. threatens sanctions

Proposed U.S. sanctions take target Turkey's political leadership and military forces

The Trump administration on Friday belatedly threatened new sanctions against Turkey that officials said could cripple Turkey's economy in response to its military offensive against Kurds in northern Syria.

Mnuchin said the United States was not activating the sanctions at this time but would do so if necessary. But again, these are very powerful sanctions. "We hope we don't have to use them, but we can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to", Mnuchin told reporters during a news conference.

Mnuchin said it's important that Turkey not allow a "single" IS fighter to escape.

After Milley spoke, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will not stop its operation against the Kurdish militia "no matter what anyone says".

"No one should doubt that Turkey will respond tit-for-tat to possible U.S. sanctions", said spokesman Hami Aksoy, responding to a statement by the U.S. Treasury Department on possible sanctions against Turkey in relation to its anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

Turkey's cross-border military offensive has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of "terrorists" since it began on Wednesday, according to Turkey's military.

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

The Kurds, considered terrorists by Turkey, have played the leading role in ground combat, under U.S. air protection, against the Islamic State in Syria, also known as ISIS. Although US troops had no intention of firing on Turkey, its North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, the Pentagon noted that US troops had the right to defend themselves, if needed.

In addition to putting USA partners "in harms way", he said that it "risks the security of (prisoner) camps and will put the region in danger". He also pushed back against criticism that the U.S. troop pullback was a green light to Turkey, portraying it instead as a decision taken to protect his forces.

As has Erdogan and other Turkish officials, Kilic expressed puzzlement and no small amount of exasperation at U.S. refusal to recognise the danger posed by the Kurdish fighters and their political movement, which he said was "trying to carve out a Marxist-Leninist state".



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