‘Time is of the essence’: Senators want sanctions against Turkey for safe-zone violations


Five senators, including three Democrats and two Republicans, have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to explain Turkey’s reported attacks on Syrian Kurds outside the so-called “safe zone.”

In a letter dated Nov. 6, the senators cited reports that Turkey or Turkish backed forces have attacked Syrian Kurds near the Tal Tamr district of Al-Hasakah, in northeastern Syria.

“These attacks, if true, would violate the ceasefire agreements and should prompt immediate action from the administration,” the senators wrote. The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen, Richard Blumenthal, and Jeanne Shaheen, and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Marsha Blackburn.

“We ask that you immediately let us know if Turkey and/or its proxy forces are operating outside of the area that runs east-west between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain and south about 30 kilometers to the M4-M10 road,” the senators wrote. “If so, does the Administration plan to impose sanctions on Turkey for violating the October 17 agreement?”

Pompeo underscored with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in October that the United States expects Turkey and related forces to adhere to the agreement, the senators wrote.

“President Trump has threatened to ‘destroy Turkey’s economy’ should Turkey violate its obligations. In keeping with this position, we ask that the Administration take swift measures to enforce the October 17 agreement with tough economic sanctions,” they wrote. “Given the stakes, time is of the essence.”

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