Smoke billows from targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces on Tuesday. Lefteris Pitarakis/ AP
Turkey’s president says he won’t halt its military offensive in northeast Syria, despite growing pressure and sanctions from NATO allies.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments came as Washington, which has announced limited sanctions on Turkey, said US Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Ankara on Wednesday to try and reach a cease-fire deal.
Speaking to a group of journalists, Erdogan said he told President Donald Trump: “We could never declare a ceasefire,” adding that Turkey wouldn’t negotiate with “terrorists.”
Erdogan said he was “not concerned” by sanctions imposed on Turkey.
Turkey launched its offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists after Trump announced he was withdrawing US troops.
Russia has signaled its role as de facto power broker in the conflict, deploying forces near the border following America’s pullout.
Facing a backlash for appearing to greenlight Turkey’s assault against Kurdish forces in Syria, President Donald Trump on Friday dialed up pressure on America’s NATO ally by threatening crippling sanctions.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday there were no setbacks in a deal to procure Russian S-400 missile defence systems, and added that “eyes are on the delivery process,” expected in the first half of July.
Russian forces have started patrols along the flashpoint border, filling the vacuum left by a US troop withdrawal that effectively handed back a third of the country to the Moscow-backed regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
US President Donald Trump on Monday demanded Turkey stop its military incursion in Syria and imposed new sanctions on the NATO ally as Trump scrambled to limit the damage from his much-criticized decision to clear US troops from Turkey’s path.
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Turkish authorities registered nearly 600 aftershocks, dozens of them stronger than 4.0 magnitude, complicating the search for those believed to still be breathing under mountains of concrete debris.