Divisions remain strong over President Donald Trump’s recent decision to remove troops from Northern Syria.
ZeroHedge reported that U.S. House members are seeking to introduce sanctions against Turkey as a response to its latest campaign into Northern Syria. The Turkish army has ramped up air and artillery strikes along this border according to certain reports.
29 House Republicans vowed to back sanction measures against the NATO ally and are introducing legislation to do so.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of civilians have left their homes in the area, while Turkish forces have surrounded the border towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad. These developments have worried humanitarian groups who believe that this could provoke an outflow of hundreds of thousands of refugees. These aid groups estimate that 70,000 people have been forced out of their homes so far as violence cranks up.
Last Friday, Reuters detailed the growing number of casualties:
Turkish forces have seized nine villages near Ras al Ain and Tel Abyad, said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war. It reported at least 54 fighters with the SDF, 42 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and 17 civilians had been killed.
Turkey says two Turkish soldiers have been killed. Turkish authorities said on Friday two people were killed and three wounded by mortar shelling in the border town of Suruc, while eight were killed and 35 wounded in a mortar and rocket attack on Turkey’s border town of Nusaybin.
Last week, staunch neoconservative Senator Lindsey Graham criticized the White House for giving Erdogan leeway to mount an offensive, declaring it “will be the biggest mistake of his presidency” if Trump does not reverse course by keeping Turkey in check. In the meantime, bipartisan actors are working to draft sanctions against Turkey in the Senate.
House Republicans like Liz Cheney declared that “President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and his regime must face serious consequences for mercilessly attacking our Kurdish allies in northern Syria.” She added that Russia could be another concern in the region: “Congress has long had concerns about the [Erdogan] regime’s cooperation with US adversaries, such as Russia.”
President Trump has remained cautious about handling Turkey.
Last Thursday, he tweeted three courses of action: “Send in thousands of troops and win militarily, hit Turkey very hard financially and with sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds.”
He then told reporters at a campaign rally in Minnesota, “I hope it’s going to be the last one.”
During the rally, Trump boldly declared that it was time to “bring our soldiers back home” and followed up by saying, “These wars produce only chaos and bloodshed.”
Trump has the right instincts here. Hopefully, he follows through.
However, knowing the power of the military-industrial complex, Trump will likely have his hands full when trying to restore sanity to U.S. foreign policy by withdrawing from the Middle East.
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