Sarbanes Votes to Punish Turkey for Brutal Military Campaign in Northern Syria

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined a large bipartisan majority of U.S. Representatives to pass H.R. 4695, the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey (PACT) Act, a bill to sanction Turkey for launching a ruthless military campaign in northern Syria and to require the Trump Administration to safeguard America’s national security interests and address the ensuing humanitarian crisis in the region.

Turkey’s military operation began on October 9, after President Donald J. Trump acquiesced to the demands of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by withdrawing U.S. forces from Northern Syria and abandoning America’s Syrian Kurdish allies. The military campaign has killed hundreds of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Turkey must face consequences for the violence it has unleashed in northern Syria,” said Congressman Sarbanes, a forceful and longstanding voice against Turkish authoritarianism and aggression. “This sanctions package will apply targeted and sustained pressure on the Erdogan regime to cease its military activities in the region, stop the bloodshed and end the displacement of Syrian Kurds, our trusted partners in the fight against ISIS. At the same time, this bill will order the Trump Administration to take steps to guarantee American security interests in northern Syria and help ameliorate the humanitarian crisis created by Turkey’s belligerent activities.”

Key provisions of the PACT Act include:

  • Implementing mandatory asset freezes and visa bans for senior Turkish officials;
  • Halting all United States arms transfers that the Turkish military could use in Syria;
  • Imposing financial sanctions on banks that help facilitate Turkish military operations in Syria;
  • Compelling the Trump Administration to produce several plans to address the natural security threats and humanitarian issues caused by the Administration’s decision to abandon America’s Syrian Kurdish partners; and
  • Requiring the Trump Administration to impose long overdue sanctions on Turkey for acquiring the Russian S-400 air and defense system, which threatens NATO security.