- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2019

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Friday that if the newly brokered cease-fire in Turkey’s Syria incursion does not hold up during the five-day period, Congress will pursue sanctions on Ankara.

“We’re prepared to move forward with [a sanctions bill] if this cease-fire does not work, but we certainly want to give it a chance to see if peace can be accomplished in this region,” Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, said in an interview on Fox News.

Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday agreed to a 120-hour halt in a military offensive in northeast Syria to allow the U.S. to help Kurdish fighters leave a 20-mile border buffer zone.

Mr. McCaul’s comments came as civilians in the region reported clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces, according to CNN, which took place just hours after the cease-fire was agreed to.

Mr. McCaul and committee Chairman Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, announced a sanctions bill Thursday that targets senior Turkish officials and financial institutions and bars the sale of weapons to Turkey to use in Syria.

“I have my concerns on a withdrawal from Syria, particularly as it pertains to protecting the homeland,” Mr. McCaul said.

Scores of lawmakers have criticized President Trump’s move to withdraw troops from the region and argue it abandons a key ally, the Kurds, who fought alongside U.S. forces in the fight against the Islamic State.

“We certainly hope this works,” Mr. McCaul said.

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