The US Government has imposed tariffs on Turkish steel and sanctions on three Turkish ministers and two government departments over Ankara’s attack in Syria against Kurdish forces it views as a terrorist threat.
The move comes as US President Donald Trump scrambles to limit the damage from his much-criticised decision to clear US troops from Turkey’s path.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said “effective immediately” the US had sanctioned the Turkish ministers of defence, interior and energy, as well as the departments of defence and energy.
In an earlier statement on Twitter, Mr Trump said he would sign an executive order permitting sanctions to be imposed on current and former Turkish officials and “any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilising actions”.
The statement also announced plans to reimpose a 50 per cent tariff on steel and immediately halt negotiations on a $US100 billion trade deal.
“Turkey’s military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security and stability in the region,” the statement said, adding that Turkey’s actions were “setting conditions for possible war crimes”.
Vice-President Mike Pence said he was being dispatched to the area, following a phone call between Mr Trump and the Turkish leader.
The rapidly changing situation was set in motion last week, when Mr Trump ordered American troops in northern Syria to step aside, clearing the way for an attack by Turkey.
Since 2014, the Kurds have fought alongside the US in defeating the Islamic State in Syria, and Mr Trump’s move was decried at home and abroad as a betrayal of an ally.
In a series of Tweets on Monday evening (local time), Mr Trump dismissed any US responsibility to protect its Kurdish allies, saying they are “7,000 miles away” and “presided over by Bashar al-Assad, our enemy”.