WHITE HOUSE — The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is loading "very powerful" sanctions to impose on Turkey for its attacks on Syrian territory, but it is not yet pulling the trigger.
"If Turkey does something they shouldn't be doing we will put on sanctions the likes of which very few countries have ever seen before," the president told reporters Friday. "We don't want them killing a lot of people."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced earlier in the day that Trump is signing an executive order to dissuade Turkey from any further offensive military action in northeast Syria.
Trump, according to Mnuchin, is concerned about the potential targeting by Turkish forces of civilians, civilian infrastructure, and ethnic or religious minorities.
"Also, the president wants to make very clear that Turkey not allow even a single ISIS fighter to escape," Mnuchin told reporters at the White House. Asked twice by VOA on the White House South Lawn what would prompt him to enact the sanctions, Trump declined to answer.
"Turkey is fighting with terrorist organizations that create a threat to its national security," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement reacting to the threatened U.S. sanctions. "No one should doubt that we will retaliate ... to any step that will be taken against this."
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