President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey will not stop its operation against Syrian Kurds despite a US warning that Turkey could face “very powerful” sanctions over its invasion of northeastern Syria.
"We will never stop this step we have taken against the PYD/YPG... We will not stop it no matter what anyone says," Erdogan said. "We're receiving threats from right and left, saying stop this progress."
Turkey intensified its air and artillery strikes in northeast Syria on Friday, escalating an offensive against Kurdish fighters that has drawn warnings and criticism from across the world.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that President Donald Trump had authorized US officials to draft "very significant" new sanctions to target Turkey after it launched the offensive, but added that they were not executing the sanctions at this time.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper also said that Ankara's military incursion into northeastern Syria was damaging US-Turkey relations, adding that Washington was not abandoning its Kurdish partners.
"We have not abandoned the Kurds, let me be clear about that," Esper told reporters at the Pentagon.
"Nobody green-lighted this operation by Turkey, just the opposite. We pushed back very hard at all levels for the Turks not to commence this operation," Esper said.