US slaps sanctions on Turkey, calls for ceasefire in Syria

Washington: While imposing sanctions on Turkey over its military operation in northeast Syria, US President Donald Trump on Monday called for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle Eastern nation. 

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday said that Trump had called on his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop operations in northern Syria, reported Sputnik. 

"President Trump communicated to him very clearly that the United States of America wants Turkey to stop the invasion, implement an immediate ceasefire and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to bring an end to the violence," Pence said. 

He added that Trump directed him and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien to lead a delegation to Turkey to begin negotiations immediately. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a statement, said. "

The sanctions apply to individuals, entities or associates of the Turkish government involved in actions that endanger civilians or lead to the further deterioration of peace, security and stability in northeast Syria." 

In his sanctions announcement, Trump said that he was halting negotiations on a USD 100 billion trade deal with Turkey and raising steel tariffs back up to 50 per cent. Moreover, he imposed sanctions on three senior Turkish officials and Turkey's defence and energy ministries. 

Trump, while announcing the move, said: am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path." 

"Turkey's military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security and stability in the region," he added in a statement posted on his official Twitter handle." 

l have been perfectly clear with Erdogan that Turkey's action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes,' read his statement.

"Turkey must ensure the safety of civilians, including religious and ethnic minorities, and is now, or maybe in the future, responsible for the ongoing detention of ISIS terrorists in the region,' it added. 

The US President had earlier ordered a withdrawal of 50 US troops from the border dividing Turkey and Syria amid the possibility that a Turkish incursion was imminent. 

Trump has been criticised for his decision to pull back troops, with even Republican lawmakers harshly denouncing the decision as a betrayal of the Kurds and a strategic blunder that will weaken American credibility and reverse gains against the ISIS. 

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