Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 1-US officials intensify pressure on Turkey to stop Syria assault

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 12-10-2019 03:45 IST | Created: 12-10-2019 03:44 IST
UPDATE 1-US officials intensify pressure on Turkey to stop Syria assault
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

The United States ramped up efforts on Friday to persuade Turkey to halt an escalating offensive in northern Syria against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, saying Ankara was causing "great harm" to ties and could face potentially devastating sanctions. U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull back troops from Syria's border with Turkey has been widely criticized in Washington as a tacit "green light" for a Turkish incursion that experts say could cause a humanitarian catastrophe.

But the Pentagon denied accusations it had abandoned its Syrian Kurdish allies, its strongest partner in the battle against Islamic State, to the Turkish military onslaught. "Nobody green-lighted this operation by Turkey, just the opposite. We pushed back very hard at all levels for the Turks not to commence this operation," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told a news briefing, accusing Ankara of damaging ties.

Esper and Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said they had spoken with their Turkish counterparts repeatedly in recent days, asking them to stop. But there was no sense that Turkey would do so, they said.

"I'm not seeing any indication or warnings of any planned stoppage of their military activity," said Milley, the top U.S. military officer. After Milley spoke, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will not stop its operation against the Kurdish militia "no matter what anyone says."

Since it began on Tuesday, the Turkish incursion has opened a new front in the eight-year Syrian civil war and drawn international criticism. A war monitor gave a death toll of more than 100 so far and the United Nations said 100,000 people had fled their homes. Trump himself has come under withering criticism, including from stalwart Republican backers such as U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, for withdrawing the U.S. forces whose presence might have prompted Erdogan to hold off on sending in troops.

On Friday, Graham accused Turkey of serious crimes in Syria and said Trump was doing too little. "We are witnessing ethnic cleansing in Syria by Turkey, the destruction of a reliable ally in the Kurds, and the reemergence of ISIS (Islamic State)," Graham said in a statement.

"The conditional sanctions announced today will be viewed by Turkey as a tepid response and will embolden Erdogan even more," Graham said, adding Congress will pass severe sanctions with support from both Republicans and Democrats. A senior U.S. State Department official said late on Thursday that the department has been asked by Trump to see "if there are areas of commonality between the two sides, if there's a way that we could find our way to a ceasefire."


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared at the White House to announce that Trump had authorized U.S. officials to draft "very powerful" new sanctions targeting Turkey, but the conditions under which they would be applied were unclear.

Mnuchin said the United States was not activating the sanctions at this time but would do so if necessary. "We are putting financial institutions on notice that they should be careful and that there could be sanctions," he said.

Mnuchin said Trump was concerned about potential targeting of civilians by Turkish forces, and wants to make clear that Turkey cannot "allow even a single ISIS fighter to escape." In its first big attack since the assault began, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a deadly car bomb in Qamishli, the biggest city in the Kurdish-held area of northeast Syria, even as the city came under heavy Turkish shelling.

Five Islamic State fighters fled a jail there, and foreign women from the group being held in a camp torched tents and attacked guards with sticks and stones, the Kurds said. Milley told reporters he had just spoken with the chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Yasar Guler, who "understands clearly" that the prisoners would be Ankara's responsibility in areas where it carries out the offensive.

"We, the U.S. military, have no responsibility to ... secure those ISIS prisoners in Syria," Milley said. Pentagon officials also stressed the need for Turkey to avoid endangering U.S. forces inside Syria, who numbered about 1,000 prior to the incursion. Although U.S. troops had no intention of firing on Turkey, its North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, the Pentagon noted they had the right to defend themselves.

Milley said Turkey had been told of U.S. positions in Syria. An explosion occurred on Friday near a U.S. military outpost near Kobane in Syria, a U.S. official said, but no U.S. personnel were reported hurt. The source of the blast was not immediately clear.

Also Read: Turkey shrugs off Thomas Cook collapse amid booming investment



Uganda COVID-19 response: Was off to a good start but reopening dwindled prospects

Uganda has shown success in using health information to enhance efficiency of disease surveillance, reporting and monitoring. The success, however, has critical challenges confronting it as the country resumes normal activities....

New farm bills in India: Focusing on farms or farmers?

... ...

Kenya’s COVID-19 response: Chaos amid lack of information

Confusing numbers and scanty information on how effective curfews and lockdowns have been in breaking transmission have amplified coordination and planning challenges in Kenyas response to COVID-19. Without accurate data, it is impossible t...

Farkhad Akhmedov: Calculating the price of impunity from the law

In insistences such as the battle over the Luna, Akhmedov has resorted to extreme legal machinations to subvert the High Courts decision and keep his assets from being seized. ...


Latest News

Snapchat launches AR-enabled Friendship Time Capsule

Snapchat has recently rolled out an AR-enabled Friendship Time Capsule feature that allows users to see how their friendship will look like in the future, in response to findings from its Friendship Report 2020. This comes after the company...

Inviting #BloodSisters everywhere to Think Pink with Plush

New Delhi India October 30 ANIIndia PR Distribution Breast Cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting women worldwide. In order to spread awareness about the same, the month of October is widely regarded as Breast Cancer Awa...

China shares end lower; consumer, banks help markets post monthly gains

China stocks closed lower on Friday, dragged by food and beverage firms following slower profit growth in the third quarter, although the indexes posted monthly gains on strength in consumer discretionary and banking shares. The blue-chip ...

Significant improvement in Delhi's air quality likely in next 2 days: SAFAR

A significant improvement is likely in the national capitals air quality over the next two days, a central government air quality monitoring agency said on Friday. The Ministry of Earth Sciences air quality monitor, SAFAR, said that th...

Give Feedback