ANKARA: Three more countries halted arms sales to Turkey on Tuesday as pressure mounted on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Turkish invasion of northeast Syria.
Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports, and the US threatened Ankara with more sanctions unless Erdogan halts the offensive.
“We will keep our defense exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. “No further export licenses to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review.”
Spain, a major arms exporter to Turkey, urged Erdogan to “put an end to this military operation” because it endangered regional stability, increased the number of refugees and threatened Syria’s territorial integrity.
“In coordination with its EU partners, Spain will deny new export licenses for military equipment that can be used in the operation in Syria,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Sweden also halted exports of military combat equipment. “Two permits that have been active have now been recalled,” it said.
Erdogan’s assault against Kurdish forces, launched last week, has prompted a chorus of international condemnation. “Many NATO allies are very critical and are condemning the military operation in northern Syria,” said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, the Western military alliance of which Turkey is a member.
Russia’s presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said Turkey had no right to deploy its forces in Syria permanently, and Moscow had not approved the operation.
US President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on Turkey on Monday, and on Tuesday the US said more sanctions would follow unless the invasion was halted.
“The plan is to continue the pressure on Turkey as we evaluate our chances to return the relationship to normal, a major element of that return to normal would be a cease-fire,” a senior administration official said. “And by cease-fire what I mean is forces on the ground stop moving on the ground.”
Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.