(EDITORS PLEASE NOTE - UPDATES HEADLINE AND INTRO) SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN, SAYING: "Effectively immediately, we have sanctioned three of the ministers, the minister of defense, the minister of interior and the minister of energy." U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday raised steel tariffs on Turkey and imposed sanctions over its incursion into Syria as Trump scrambled to limit the damage from his much-criticized decision to clear U.S. troops from Turkey's path.
US TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN announced the sanctions.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN, SAYING: "We have also sanctioned the department of defense and the ministry of energy." And, in addition to steel tariffs increased to 50 percent, Trump announced on Monday "the United States will also stop negotiations… with respect to a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey." Turkey is now battling Syrian Kurdish fighters, who helped the U.S. defeat ISIS on the ground.
Trump is struggling to quell harsh criticism, including from some of his staunchest Republican backers, that he gave Erdogan a green light to attack the Kurds when he decided to pull U.S. troops from northeast Syria last week.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE, SAYING: "Well, the United States of America did not give a green light to Turkey to invade Syria…the president's objections here are very clear, that the sanctions announced today will continue and worsen, unless and until Turkey embraces an immediate ceasefire, stops the violence, and agrees to negotiate a longterm settlement of the issues along the border between Turkey and Syria." In the face of a Turkish military onslaught, Trump on Monday tweeted his plan to squeeze Ankara in response, calling out Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for "precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes" - but reiterated his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region, claiming ISIS had been defeated there.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, expressed his displeasure in a statement, writing, "Abandoning this fight now and withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria would recreate the very conditions that we have worked hard to destroy and invite the resurgence of ISIS." Turkey's offensive aims to neutralize gains made by a Syrian Kurdish militia seen by Ankara as a terrorist group aligned with insurgents in Turkey.