Breaking with Trump, US Republicans push for response to Turkey over Syria attack

US Republicans condemned President Donald Trump's policy in Syria on Wednesday after Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish fighters, a rare breach of the White House that called for “devastating” sanctions against NATO's ally.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, usually a vocal ally of Trump, repeatedly criticized Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from northeastern Syria and presented a sanctions framework for Turkey with Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen.

Its proposed sanctions would target the assets of senior officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, impose sanctions on Turkey's purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system and impose visa restrictions.

They would also sanction anyone conducting military transactions with Turkey or supporting energy production for the use of their armed forces, bar US military assistance to Turkey, and demand a report on Erdogan's net worth and assets.

"I am pleased to have reached a two-party agreement with Senator Van Hollen on severe sanctions against Turkey for the invasion of Syria," Graham said in a statement.

"As long as the government refuses to act against Turkey, I expect strong bipartisan support," he said.

The Turkish military and Syrian rebel allies launched an operation in Syria on Wednesday with air strikes. Erdogan said the operation aims to eliminate a "terror corridor" along the Turkish border.

Ankara has classified the Kurdish YPG Syrian militia as a terrorist because of its ties to militants who have insurgency in Turkey. But many members of Congress, and US officials, credit the Kurds with fighting alongside US troops to defeat Islamic State militants.

Some House Republicans have joined the conviction.

Representative Liz Cheney, who chairs the House Republican Conference, said Trump's decision "is having disgusting and predictable consequences." Saying her action helped US opponents "Russia, Iran and Turkey," she said lawmakers would respond.

"Congress must and will act to limit the catastrophic impact of this decision," Cheney said in a statement.

Other Republicans issued statements questioning what they described as Trump's decision to "abandon" the Kurds.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Source: Reuters

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