U.S. officials intensify pressure on Turkey to stop Syria assault

BREAKING Trump Administration Threatens Sanctions on Turkey

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the White House on Friday the US hopes it will not have to use its new, expanded sanctions authority President Donald Trump has authorized.

Mnuchin said the United States was not yet activating the sanctions at this time, but would do so if necessary and was already in the process of notifying banks. But again, these are very powerful sanctions.

Mnuchin said Mr. Trump is signing orders that authorize sanctions against any portion of the Turkish government or person tied to the government.

Mnuchin said Trump was concerned about any potential targeting of civilians by Turkish forces, and wants to make clear that Turkey can not "allow even a single ISIS fighter to escape".

In the days since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Mr. Trump by telephone about pulling American troops out of Syria, several senior American diplomats have said that Mr. Trump made a crucial error by not threatening sanctions ahead of the withdrawal.

Trump faced a fierce, bipartisan backlash this week after a sudden announcement that the USA was withdrawing from northeastern Syria in advance of Turkey's military operations, blindsiding both lawmakers and American allies.

Trump said after a Sunday telephone call with Erdogan that he was informed of the Turkish operation, and had ordered U.S. forces to withdraw from the target area.

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There was no immediate acknowledgement from the kingdom of this amid heightened tensions across the Middle East. The US Navy's Fifth Fleet, which operates in the region, said it was aware of media reports about the tanker.

Turkey on Wednesday launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria to secure its borders by eliminating terrorists there and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria's territorial integrity. Those killed included 17 civilians - as well as dozens of Kurdish fighters and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

"We, the United States military, have no responsibility to. secure those ISIS prisoners in Syria", Milley said.

Kurdish forces have, until many took off for the front lines against Turkey, provided protection for USA installations.

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.

Esper insisted, as have other officials, that anti-ISIS operations by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Force outside the incursion zone have not stopped, and that no prisoners were known to have escaped. 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.

"The Turkish military is fully aware - down to explicit grid coordinate detail - of the locations of US forces", he said.

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