Turkey Threatens to Release ISIS Prisoners over EU Sanctions

Grant Boone
November 14, 2019

He said that he and Turkey's president have been "very good friends" for a long time and understand each other's country.

The meeting of the two world leaders has drawn criticism from both Republican and Democrat lawmakers, who earlier this week called on Trump to cancel his encounter with Erdogan.

Trump's warm welcome of the Turkish president came amid anger in the United States Congress about Ankara's offensive into Syria to drive out Kurdish forces, one of Washington's main partners in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS). Turkey then struck a separate deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to clear the Kurdish YPG militia from the border, which has not been fully implemented.

The White House responded by canceling Turkey's participation in the Pentagon's elite Joint Strike Fighter program, saying the S-400 system could be used to collect sensitive data on the F-35 jet fighter program, making Turkey's participation "impossible".

A USA military convoy arrives, Wednesday, November 13, in the Syrian border town of Qamishli, along the frontier with Turkey, as Washington shifts its assets in the region, after pulling out of other areas along the border.

The Turkish president told reporters he might be persuaded to use the US -made Patriot system "as well" as the Russian S-400.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged Turkey to investigate reported cases of summary executions committed by a Turkish-backed armed group in northern Syria.

Erdogan also said he was "deeply hurt" by the House resolution recognising the killings of 1.5 million Armenians a century ago as a "genocide", a label Turkey rejects.

The House of Representatives last month passed a sanctions package to punish Turkey over the purchase of the Russian defence system and Ankara's Syria operation.

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"Turkey will feel the impact of those sanctions", O'Brien told CBS's "Face the Nation" in an interview, referring to the CAATSA law.

Trump invited Erdogan to Washington during the phone call October 6. For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered.

"The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer", the statement added. It has also accused the YPG of vacating some Islamic State jails.

Differences between the two sides extend well beyond Syria and the S-400. Turkey continues to drill for oil in contested waters off Cyprus, and while Washington has issued light criticism over human rights abuses, it is anxious about US Consulate workers that have been arrested as part of a massive domestic crackdown.

The US and fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations say the S-400 would aid Russian intelligence and compromise a US-led fighter jet program.

For Ankara, a long-standing extradition request for US-based Islamic preacher Fetullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for a bloody 2016 failed coup bid, and continuing USA relations with the Kurdish YPG militia it views as terrorists, are among top issues.

Erdogan last visited Washington in 2017. European Union should be careful", he warned, adding: "Some countries have started panicking after we began the repatriation process of foreign Daesh terrorists.

This outraged many in Congress, which saw the move as an abandonment of the Kurds, who died in large numbers while fighting alongside USA forces against Islamic State jihadists in the area. Some in Congress say Erdogan should never have been invited to the White House in the first place.

Trump said he would release the transcript of the call on Thursday, but said he doesn't remember a call to US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that Sondland mentioned in testimony before Congress.

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