Trump imposes sanctions on Turkey over its actions in northeastern Syria

PHOTO: Turkish-backed Syrian fighters are pictured in the town of Ayn al-Arus, south of the border town of Tal Abyad, on Oct. 14, 2019.PlayBakr Alkasem/AFP via Getty Images
WATCH US troops hunker down as large armies prepare to face off in Syria

President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing, "the imposition of sanctions against current and former officials of the Government of Turkey and any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria."

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"The president has been very clear, these sanctions are very, very strong," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Monday afternoon.

The U.S. has sanctioned three ministers and two government agencies in Turkey, according to the Treasury Department, which also said that there will be additional sanctions "as necessary" condemning Turkey for "endangering innocent civilians, and destabilizing the region, including undermining the campaigns to defeat ISIS."

Vice President Mike Pence also told reporters that he has been directed to begin to negotiations "to bring an end to the violence."

"The president’s objective here is very clear. That the sanctions that were announced today will continue, and will worsen -- unless and until -- Turkey embraces an immediate cease fire, stops the violence and agrees to negotiate a long-term settlement of the issues along the border between Turkey and Syria," Pence said.

Trump also said in his earlier statement that steel tariffs would be increased back up to 50% -- the level prior to a reduction in May.

"The United States will also immediately stop negotiations, being led by the Department of Commerce, with respect to a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey," the statement said.

"I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path," he added.

PHOTO: Turkish-backed Syrian fighters are pictured in the town of Ayn al-Arus, south of the border town of Tal Abyad, on Oct. 14, 2019. Bakr Alkasem/AFP via Getty Images
Turkish-backed Syrian fighters are pictured in the town of Ayn al-Arus, south of the border town of Tal Abyad, on Oct. 14, 2019.

The president had no public events on Monday and took to Twitter to defend his decision of pulling U.S. troops from Syria.

In a statement, he announced he would rather use the money to defend the southern border of the United States, tweeting, "Some people want the United States to protect the 7,000 mile away Border of Syria, presided over by Bashar al-Assad, our enemy. At the same time, Syria and whoever they chose to help, wants naturally to protect the Kurds.......I would much rather focus on our Southern Border which abuts and is part of the United States of America. And by the way, numbers are way down and the WALL is being built!"

And as many people are witnessing disturbing scenes of mass atrocities and executions, Trump also tweeted that Islamic State prisoners could be "easily recaptured by Turkey and European nations."

"Despite the opposition and repeated warnings from the United States and the international community, Turkish President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan ordered a unilateral invasion of northern Syria that has resulted in widespread casualties, refugees, destruction, insecurity, and a growing threat to U.S. military forces," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a statement. "This unacceptable incursion has also undermined the successful multinational "Defeat ISIS" mission in Syria, and resulted in the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees. Due to Turkey's irresponsible actions, the risk to U.S. forces in northeast Syria has reached an unacceptable level. We are also at risk of being engulfed in a broader conflict. Therefore, at the President's direction, the Department of Defense is executing a deliberate withdrawal of U.S. military personnel from northeast Syria."

In his statement, Trump also confirmed ABC News reporting that "a small footprint" of U.S. force would remain to the south, along the border with Jordan and Iraq.

"Turkey's unilateral action was unnecessary and impulsive. President Erdogan bears full responsibility for its consequences, to include a potential ISIS resurgence, possible war crimes, and a growing humanitarian crisis. The bilateral relationship between our two countries has also been damaged," Esper said in his statement. "I will be visiting NATO next week in Brussels, where I plan to press our other NATO allies to take collective and individual diplomatic and economic measures in response to these egregious Turkish actions."

ABC News' Luis Martinez and Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.