The United States on Monday sanctioned two Turkish ministries and three senior government officials as a protest against the country’s military offensive in northern Syria. “The Turkish government’s actions are endangering innocent civilians, and destabilizing the region, including undermining the campaign to defeat ISIS [Islamic State],” the US Treasury department said in a statement.

US President Donald Trump said he had issued an executive order to immediately freeze negotiations on a US-Turkey trade deal worth $100 billion and reimpose tariffs of 50% on Turkish steel. “I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” the president said on Monday, according to The Guardian.

Trump spoke directly to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to demand an immediate ceasefire in Syria, said Vice President Mike Pence. Pence added that he would be travelling to the Middle East “as quickly as possible”. This comes at a time when Trump has faced criticism for leaving the Kurdish forces, who were US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group, to fend for themselves in the face of Turkey’s military onslaught in northern Syria.

Pence warned that the sanctions “will continue and will worsen unless and until Turkey embraces an immediate ceasefire, stops the violence and agrees to negotiate a long-term settlement of the issues along the border between Turkey and Syria”. He reiterated that the US did not give “a green light to Turkey to invade Syria”.

Turkish President Erdogan has said the main objective of the mission will be to prevent the setting up of a terror corridor across the country’s southern border. The Turkish president has said his country will preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and free local communities from the control of terrorists. They will also establish a “safe zone” to allow Syrian refugees to return home,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the European Union countries vowed to suspend arms exports to Turkey, reported BBC. In response, Ankara said it would examine its co-operation with the EU due to its “unlawful and biased” attitude.

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