United States threatens Turkey with 'very significant' sanctions

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Mnuchin said that the Department of Defense and the State Department would continue to monitor the Turkey military action for any humanitarian violations.

We hope we don't have to use them. But again, these are very powerful sanctions.

"The president is concerned about the ongoing military offensive and potential targeting of civilians, civilian infrastructure, ethnic or religious minorities - and also, the president wants to make very clear, it is imperative that Turkey not allow even a single ISIS fighter to escape", Mr. Mnuchin said.

Trump said after a Sunday telephone call with Erdogan that he was informed of the Turkish operation, and had ordered United States forces to withdraw from the target area.

He said that Turkey's operations were defensive and legal under the charters of both the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, to which to which Turkey belongs.

"Now there are threats coming from left and right, telling us to stop this", Erdogan said, AFP reported.

Turkish officials said they are not interested in mediation.

"At this point, we are not activating the sanctions", he added.

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Mr. Trump insists he did not greenlight the attack in his phone call last weekend with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey's cross-border military offensive has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of "terrorists" since it began on Wednesday, according to Turkey's military. Those killed included 17 civilians - as well as dozens of Kurdish fighters and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

"We, the USA military, have no responsibility to ... secure those ISIS prisoners in Syria", Milley said.

Esper and Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said they had spoken with their Turkish counterparts repeatedly in recent days, asking them to stop.

The Kurds, considered terrorists by Turkey, have played the leading role in ground combat, under USA air protection, against the Islamic State in Syria, also known as ISIS.

The Pentagon also stressed the need for Turkey to avoid doing anything to endanger United States forces inside Syria, which numbered about 1,000 prior to the incursion.

In addition to putting USA partners "in harms way", he said that it "risks the security of (prisoner) camps and will put the region in danger". "We will not step back".

"The Turkish military is fully aware - down to explicit grid coordinate detail - of the locations of US forces", he said.

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