Pompeo, Pence depart for Turkey amid Erdogan rejection of ‘ceasefire’
US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have departed for Turkey to discuss ‘ceasefire’ already rejected by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday that the two have left in a stated effort to end Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria, which could not have come about if not for his own green light.
"We want to bring our soldiers back home and we'll be very tough on Turkey and a lot of others. They have to maintain their own properties now they have to maintain peace and safety and we'll see what happens,” he said. “The delegation were asking for a cease fire.
We put the strongest sanctions that you can imagine but they get a lot. We have a lot in store if they don't, if they don't have an impact including massive tariffs on steel, they ship a lot of steel to the United States. They make a lot of money shipping steel they won't be making so much money.”
Erdogan, meanwhile, told Trump in a phone call that Ankara will never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria, Reuters reported.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that two Syrian soldiers were killed by artillery fire from pro-Turkey rebels in the north of the country, after entering the region at the request of Kurds. Later, Turkey also reported casualties on its own side blaming the Syrian government.
A bill is, meanwhile, being introduced in the US Senate on Thursday, sanctioning Turkey for its invasion of northern Syria, Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said.
"I will be introducing sanctions against Turkey Thursday and I do appreciate what the (Trump) administration has done against Turkey through executive action but more to follow," Graham told reporters.