Senators press for sanctions on Turkey in a letter to Secretary Pompeo

Republican and Democratic U.S. senators asked President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday to let them know and to respond with sanctions if reports are true that Turkey is violating a ceasefire agreement in Syria. In the letter, the senators cited reports that Turkish forces are operating outside an agreed-upon “safe zone” in northeastern Syria, and that Turkish or Turkish-backed forces are attacking Syrian Kurds near Tal Tamr.

Republican and Democratic U.S. senators asked President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday to let them know and to respond with sanctions if reports are true that Turkey is violating a ceasefire agreement in Syria.

“Given the stakes, time is of the essence,” Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Marsha Blackburn and Democratic Senators Chris Van Hollen, Richard Blumenthal and Jeanne Shaheen wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Those senators have been among the loudest voices in the U.S. Congress lamenting Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from much of Syria, which many see as abandoning Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who fought for years alongside U.S. troops as they battled ISIS.

In the letter, the senators cited reports that Turkish forces are operating outside an agreed-upon “safe zone” in northeastern Syria, and that Turkish or Turkish-backed forces are attacking Syrian Kurds near Tal Tamr.

Senators Graham and Van Hollen introduced a legislation on Oct. 17 asking for serious sanctions against Turkey following their military offensive in northern Syria to the East of Euphrates.

The Graham – Van Hollen legislation proposes new sanctions to senior Turkish officials, including President Tayyip Erdoğan, key Turkish banks, military transactions, and their energy sector activities in support of the Turkish Armed Forces. It would require the U.S. Treasury to move forward with delayed sanctions under CAATSA over Turkey’s decision to obtain the S-400 Russian missile defense system. It also would prohibit U.S. military assistance to Turkey, bar President Erdogan and Turkish leadership from visiting the United States, and require reports on the net worth and assets of President Erdoğan.

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