A bipartisan group of senators plans to send a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to take action against Turkey if it violates the U.S.-brokered ceasefire agreement.
In a letter to Pompeo obtained by POLITICO, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked that the Trump administration to investigate recent reports that Turkish-backed forces are active outside the “safe zone” established by the October 17 ceasefire.
“On several occasions, President Trump has threatened to ‘destroy Turkey’s economy’ should Turkey violate its obligations,” the lawmakers wrote. “In keeping with this position, we ask that the Administration take swift measures to enforce the October 17 agreement with tough economic sanctions.”
In addition to Van Hollen and Graham, Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) also signed onto the letter, which cited an Al-Jazeera report from last week about a clash between Turkish-backed forces and the Syrian army near Ras al-Ain, a city in northeastern Syria.
“Given the stakes, time is of the essence,” they wrote. “ 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.”
The letter comes about one month after Trump withdrew troops from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to invade and endangering Syrian Kurds, who were allied with the U.S.
Van Hollen and Graham have introduced a bill that would target Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s personal finances, prohibit military assistance and restrict Turkish officials’ visas to the United States. But the sanctions bill has yet to move forward and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has urged caution against sanctioning a NATO ally.
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