US lawmakers continuing Turkey sanctions push despite ceasefire

US Senator Lindsey Graham (centre) speaks alongside US Senators Chris Van Hollen (left), Marsha Blackburn (second left), Richard Blumenthal (second right), and Jeanne Shaheen (right), about sanctions against Turkey at the US Capitol in Washington, DC
US Senator Lindsey Graham (centre) speaks alongside US Senators Chris Van Hollen (left), Marsha Blackburn (second left), Richard Blumenthal (second right), and Jeanne Shaheen (right), about sanctions against Turkey at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Oct 17, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen will move "full steam ahead" with their plans to impose stiff sanctions on Turkey, despite a temporary ceasefire agreement.

"Senators Van Hollen and Graham have spoken, and they agree on the need to move full steam ahead with their legislation," said Bridgett Frey, a spokesman for Senator Van Hollen, on Thursday (Oct 17).

A spokesman for Graham also said the two planned to move ahead.

Republican and Democratic US lawmakers called for more sanctions on Turkey earlier on Thursday over its offensive in Syria, saying they hoped to push Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan - and US President Donald Trump - to change course.

Graham and Van Hollen announced one Bill, which would target Turkish officials, end US military cooperation with the NATO ally and mandate sanctions over Turkey's purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defence system.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees also introduced

sanctions measures, with many of the same provisions.

Graham, a lead sponsor of one proposal, predicted that it would pass the Senate with enough support to overcome a possible veto by Trump.

Normally an ardent defender of fellow Republican Trump, Graham has questioned the president's decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria, paving the way for a Turkish offensive against Kurdish fighters who until recently were helping US forces fight Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

"Congress is going to speak with a very firm, singular voice, that we will impose sanctions in the strongest measure possible against this Turkish outrage that will lead to the re-emergence of ISIS, the destruction of an ally, the Kurds and eventually benefit to Iran to the detriment of Israel," he told a news conference.