- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2019

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday that would rebuke President Trump’s troop pullout from Syrian and slap harsh sanctions on Turkey unless it ends the military action in the region.

The bill by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democrat Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland would impose sanctions on Turkish officials, banks, energy companies and block U.S. military aid to the country.

“These are wide-ranging and hard-hitting,” said Mr. Graham, a staunch ally of Mr. Trump who broke with him over the troop pullout.

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The measure adds teeth to the resolution condemning the pullout that the House passed Wednesday in an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision to pull out troops from the Turkey-Syria border opened the door for a Turkish military incursion into the area with deadly attacks on Kurds in the region.

The senators warned that left unchecked, the turmoil would lead to the genocide of the Kurds, a resurgence of the Islamic State and expanded the power of Iran, posing further threats to Israel.

The Kurds were a crucial ally in the U.S. offensive that destroyed the ISIS caliphate in Syria, but some Kurdish fighters are considered terrorists by Turkey.

“Senator Graham and I don’t agree on a lot of things, but we do agree that this is a precarious day for our country and its role in the world,” said Mr. Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat.

Mr. Graham said he expected the bill, if put to a vote in the Senate, would pass by a veto-proof 80 votes. But he said he hoped the president would sign it regardless of the tally.

Under the bill, the sanctions would remain in place until Turkey withdraws its troops to positions held before Oct. 9, when the advance into Syria began.

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