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Senators introduce bill sanctioning Turkey in a bipartisan response to Syria invasion

US Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen introduced on Wednesday bipartisan sanctions against the Turkish military and political leadership…

By Jenny Scordamaglia , in Politics , at October 9, 2019 Tags: , , , , ,

US Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen introduced on Wednesday bipartisan sanctions against the Turkish military and political leadership following the country’s incursion into northern Syria. The Trump administration announced late Sunday that it would be withdrawing US forces from the region, a move roundly criticized by elected officials and foreign policy experts.

U.S. Republicans condemned President Donald Trump’s Syria policy on Wednesday after Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters, a rare break from the White House that had some calling for “devastating” sanctions against the NATO ally.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, usually a vocal Trump ally, has repeatedly criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and unveiled a framework for sanctions on Turkey with Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen.

Their proposed sanctions would target the assets of senior officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mandate sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system and impose visa restrictions.

They also would sanction anyone who conducted military transactions with Turkey or supported energy production for use by its armed forces, bar U.S. military assistance to Turkey and require a report on Erdogan’s net worth and assets.

“I am pleased to have reached a bipartisan agreement with Senator Van Hollen on severe sanctions against Turkey for their invasion of Syria,” Graham said in a statement.

“While the Administration refuses to act against Turkey, I expect strong bipartisan support,” he said.

The Turkish military and Syrian rebel allies launched an operation in Syria on Wednesday with air strikes. Erdogan said the operation aimed to eliminate a “terror corridor” along the Turkish border.

Ankara has branded the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists because of their ties to militants who have waged an insurgency in Turkey. But many members of Congress, and U.S. officials, credit the Kurds with fighting alongside American troops to defeat Islamic State militants.

Some House Republicans joined in the condemnation.

Representative Liz Cheney, who chairs the House Republican Conference, said Trump’s decision “is having sickening and predictable consequences.” Saying his action aided U.S. adversaries “Russia, Iran and Turkey,” she said lawmakers would respond.

“Congress must and will act to limit the catastrophic impact of this decision,” Cheney said in a statement.

Other Republicans issued statements questioning what they described as Trump’s decision to “abandon” the Kurds.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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