Turkey will respond if US imposes more sanctions — trade minister

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump have been in a tit-for-tat retaliatory moves as dispute between the two countries worsens. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Turkey will respond if US imposes more sanctions — trade minister

  • American pastor’s detention in Turkey has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency
  • Washington warned Thursday that it would impose more sanctions unless the pastor was released

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Friday threatened to respond if the United States levied further sanctions over the detention of an American pastor, which has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency.
“We’ve already responded based on the World Trade Organization rules and will continue to do so,” Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Washington warned on Thursday that it would impose more sanctions unless pastor Andrew Brunson, described by US President Donald Trump as a “hostage,” was released.
Brunson’s detention since October 2016 on terror-related charges has soured relations between the two NATO allies, sending the Turkish lira into a tailspin.
The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, was at 5.8 against the dollar and 6.7 against euro on Friday.
Last week, Trump tweeted that his administration was doubling aluminum and steel tariffs for Turkey, and in response Ankara sharply hiked tariffs on some US products.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested Thursday the next spiral of tit-for-tat sanctions was coming soon, in a sign of a deepening spat.
Trump prefaced Mnuchin’s remarks by saying that Turkey had not been a very good friend to America.
Referring to Brunson, Trump said: “They have a great Christian pastor there, he’s a very innocent man.”


Regime air raids kill 9 civilians in northwest Syria: monitor

Updated 12 min 14 sec ago
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Regime air raids kill 9 civilians in northwest Syria: monitor

  • Three children are among the dead in the airstrikes
  • Syrian and Russian bombing of northwest Syria killed more than 600 civilians

BEIRUT: Regime airstrikes on Tuesday killed nine civilians in rebel-held northwest Syria, the target of months of regime and Russian bombardment, a war monitor said.

Three children were among the nine killed outside Maaret Al-Numan, a town located in a southern strip of Idlib province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The death toll is expected to rise due to critical wounds sustained by some other victims, according to the Britain-based monitoring group.

Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have ramped up strikes on Idlib since late April, killing more than 600 civilians, while 52 others have died from rebel fire, according to the Observatory.

Regime forces have also been locked in battle with extremists and allied rebels on the edges of the bastion, which is held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, including the north of Hama province.

The group in January took full administrative control of the Idlib region, home to three million people, although other extremist groups and rebel factions are also present.

Idlib and its surrounding areas are supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a September 2018 deal between Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

A buffer zone planned under that accord was never fully implemented, and the region has seen an uptick in violence.

Syria’s war has killed a total of more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.