In northern Syria, 100,000 people are currently on the run after the Turkish invasion, according to the UN. Now the US is threatening Turkey with new punitive measures. Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin said sanctions are being prepared, but they are not yet effective.
However, US President Donald Trump will sign an order authorizing the Minister of Finance, in consultation with the President and the Secretary of State, to impose sanctions on "any person with ties to the Turkish government". "These are very harsh sanctions and I hope we do not have to use them," Mnuchin said. "If we have to, we can shut down the Turkish economy."
Financial institutions were warned that sanctions could be imposed. Trump is "concerned" about the military offensive in northern Syria and possible attacks on civilian targets by Turkish troops.
The military offensive in northern Syria began on Wednesday afternoon. It is directed against the Kurdish YPG militia, which controls a large area on the Syrian side of the border. Turkey sees in it an offshoot of the banned Kurdish workers' party PKK and thus a terrorist organization. Along the border, Turkey wants to set up a so-called security zone and also settle Syrian refugees there who currently live in Turkey.
Turkey calls for solidarity from NATO
US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper condemned the "one-sided" invasion that inflicted "dramatic damage" on the relationship between the two countries. The offensive would further destabilize the region.
For its part, Turkey demands from NATO a "clear and clear" commitment to solidarity. At a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was not enough for NATO partners to say "we understand Turkey's legitimate concerns and we want to see this solidarity clearly".
Apparently IS fighters broke out of jail
The fighters and supporters of the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) in the area, who are currently being guarded by the YPG militia, are also being discussed. Many fear that they could escape in the course of the Turkish military offensive. US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said it was "imperative" that Turkey not allow even a single captive IS follower to escape the Turkish embarkation area.
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Apparently, however, Mnuchin's fears have already been confirmed: Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that after Turkish attacks, five IS fighters broke out of jail. They were imprisoned in the border town of Kamischli. In addition, there was a rebellion in the refugee camp Al-Hol in northeastern Syria, where numerous IS members live, according to SDF data. According to the UN, nearly 70,000 people live in the camp.
More civilians killed
Meanwhile, the numbers of victims are rising. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 17 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the Turkish offensive. On Friday alone, there were seven civilian casualties. The Turkish army and allied Syrian rebels therefore took several villages.
EU discusses sanctions against Turkey
The EU is currently discussing sanctions against Turkey. Sweden has argued in favor of an EU-wide arms embargo, with a worsening of the situation, "economic sanctions or sanctions against individuals" conceivable, said Foreign Minister Ann Linde.
These would have to be decided unanimously - but Hungary had already vetoed a planned EU statement condemning the Turkish military offensive in northern Syria. Some states have therefore unilaterally announced a stop to arms deliveries to Turkey, including non-EU Norway and the Netherlands. Sweden has stated that it has not authorized arms exports to Turkey since last year.