Ankara dismisses US senator’s tweet on Syria operation
The Turkish presidential communications director has dismissed comments on social media by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham about the country’s newly-launched operation against the YPG in northern Syria.
“Senator, I am writing to inform you that Turkey and the Syrian National Army launched Operation Peace Spring today. I heard that we may have ran a red light,” Turkish Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter in response to a tweet by Graham about Operation Peace Spring.
“It was an emergency. We were in a rush to unleash hell on PKK and ISIS terrorists, who threatened our citizens,” Altun added, using another acronym for ISIL.
Altun’s remarks came after Graham’s tweet saying: “To the Turkish Government: You do NOT have a green light to enter into northern Syria. There is massive bipartisan opposition in Congress, which you should see as a red line you should not cross.”
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria in a bid to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements.
The U.S.-backed SDF, a group dominated by the YPG, has been controlling some 28 percent of the Syrian territories, including the most of the 911-kilometer-long Syria-Turkey border. Turkey deems the YPG the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization also by the United States and the EU.
Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrians in a 30-kilometer-wide safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij.
Bipartisan sanctions plan
A pair of U.S. senators led by Graham on Oct. 9 jointly announced a bipartisan legislation that would impose sweeping sanctions on Turkey and its senior leaders.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen worked together with Republican Graham in preparing the framework of the legislation.
It includes sanctions on Turkey’s top officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vice President Fuat Oktay, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
The treasury and finance, trade, and energy and natural resources ministers would also be blacklisted.
The bill would further prohibit military sales to Turkey, as well as U.S. military assistance to the Turkish Armed Forces, and would target Turkey’s energy sector.
Sanctions would also be imposed on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-air missile system.
If passed, all of the penalties would be mandatory unless the administration certifies to Congress - every 90 days - that Turkey is not operating unilaterally in Syria and has withdrawn its armed forces, including Turkish-supported fighters.
Congress is currently on recess, but is set to return next week.
Graham, who has been deemed a politician close to Trump, is now at odds with the U.S. president over Turkey’s operation. He met with the Turkish president several times in the United States and during his two visits to Ankara in January and July.