October 10, 2019 / 10:36 PM / 6 days ago

U.S. House Republicans to seek sanctions on Turkey over Kurd offensive

FILE PHOTO: House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Twenty-nine of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives announced on Thursday they would introduce legislation to impose sanctions against Turkey, underscoring lawmakers unhappiness about its assault on Kurdish forces in Syria.

A day after Republicans and Democrats announced similar legislation in the Senate, the lawmakers - including Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Whip Steve Scalise and other party leaders - said they wanted a strong response to Ankara’s aggression.

“President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and his regime must face serious consequences for mercilessly attacking our Kurdish allies in northern Syria,” Republican Representative Liz Cheney, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear how the legislation would fare in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats.

On Sunday, Trump abruptly shifted policy and said he was withdrawing U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to launch an assault across the border.

Turkey began the offensive quickly, pounding Kurdish militias, who recently were fighting alongside U.S. forces against Islamic State militants, on Wednesday and Thursday, killing dozens and forcing many thousands of people to flee.

In a rare break from Trump, some of his fellow Republicans have sharply criticized the president’s decision.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a co-sponsor of the Senate sanctions package announced on Wednesday, said it was made “completely against everybody else’s advice.”

The House Republicans behind Thursday’s announcements stressed that their intention was to strike back at Ankara in statements that did not criticize Trump.

Reporting by Patricia ZengerleEditing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman

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