Don’t cross ‘red line’ on Syria, Turkey warned

Tank

WASHINGTON — Senior US Republican senator Lindsey Graham on Tuesday urgently warned Turkey against sending troops into northern Syria, in the latest of a series of mixed signals from the Trump administration.

Turkey said it would shortly begin an offensive after Donald Trump announced on Sunday he was pulling back US troops who had served as a buffer preventing the long-planned attack on Kurdish forces.

But Trump has blown hot and cold since his surprise announcement, also insisting the United States had not abandoned its Kurdish allies by pulling out of the area.

The Kurdish forces, who were crucial in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State group, are viewed as “terrorists” by Turkey.

Graham, a close ally of Trump, on Tuesday addressed a tweet to the Turkish government saying, “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.”

After appearing to give the go-ahead to the Turkish offensive on Sunday, Trump then threatened to “obliterate” the country’s economy if it went too far.

Turkey has always pushed hard against US support for Kurdish forces in Syria due to their links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has fought a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

The Turkish government on Tuesday sent more armored vehicles to the border with Syria.