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EU threatens Turkey with sanctions, arms embargo 

Angrily rejecting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warning to “open the gates” and send in 3.6 million refugees to Europe, governments within the European Union have threatened sanctions against Turkey over its offensive in Syria. Reports suggest Turkish forces have umped their air and artillery strikes on Kurdish militia in northeast Syria, raising warnings of a humanitarian disaster.

The EU had already condemned the Turkish offensive when it began, but following Erdogan’s threat, is now infuriated. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted, “We will never accept that refugees are weaponised and used to blackmail us. President Erdogan’s threats… are totally out of place. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte accused the Turkish leader of blackmail and said the military operation should immediately end.

France, meanwhile, proposed economic sanctions on Turkey, a NATO ally, while the Swedish parliament demanded an EU arms embargo. Adding to the pressure on Ankara, Cyprus and Greece urged economic sanctions against Turkey over Turkish gas drilling in waters off southern Cyprus. A senior EU official said the EU was spending $6.63 billion on supporting the Syrian refugees currently living in camps inside Turkey. They added that “To use this as leverage is totally unacceptable.”

France European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said Paris wanted EU’s next week summit to specifically discuss sanctions over Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria. They said, “We will not remain powerless when faced with a situation that is shocking for civilians, the SDF and the stability of the region.” They added that the possibility of sanctions was “on the table”.

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