Evangelist Franklin Graham announced on Monday that Samaritan’s Purse, the humanitarian organization he leads, is responding to the crisis situation created by Turkey’s invasion of northeast Syria.
He also urged President Donald Trump to make the “right decisions” to mitigate further suffering.
Meanwhile, Trump released a statement on Monday condemning atrocities occurring in the war zone at the hands of the Turkish military and said his administration will be imposing new sanctions and increasing tariffs on steel imported from Turkey.
“Samaritan’s Purse is responding as tens of thousands of Kurdish people, Christians, and other minorities are fleeing after Turkey launched an invasion into Syria with its armed forces and Islamic jihadist mercenaries,” Graham wrote in a Facebook post. “We will be sending winter clothing, blankets, tarps for temporary shelter, and other relief items.”
“My prayer is that God will guide our President and Congress to make the right decisions that would alleviate further suffering and bloodshed. Pray for those fleeing and for our teams as we respond,” he continued, tagging Trump at the end of the post.
The Associated Press reported on Monday that “in the past five days, Turkish troops and their allies have pushed into northern towns and villages, clashing with the Kurdish fighters over a stretch of 200 kilometers (125 miles). The offensive has displaced at least 130,000 people.”
Graham, who has been a strong supporter of the president, was among the evangelical leaders who spoke out last week in opposition to the president’s decision to remove American troops from Syria’s northeast border with Turkey.
“The Kurds are the ones who have been leading the fight against ISIS in Syria,” Graham tweeted.
“Also pray for the Christians who the Kurds have been protecting. They could be annihilated. Would you pray w/me that Pres. @realDonaldTrump will reconsider? Thousands of lives hang in the balance.”
Trump released a statement on Monday announcing that he would soon be issuing an executive order authorizing the imposition of economic sanctions on Turkey due to the nation’s “destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.”
The president also said that he was increasing tariffs on Turkey steel back to 50 percent and stopping negotiations on a $100 billion trade deal.
“Turkey’s military offensive is endangering civilians and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region,” Trump said. “I have been perfectly clear with President Erdogan: Turkey’s action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes.”
“Turkey must ensure the safety of civilians, including religious and ethnic minorities, and is now, or may be the future, responsible for the ongoing detention of ISIS terrorists in the region,” he continued. “Unfortunately, Turkey does not appear to be mitigating the humanitarian effects on the invasion.”
Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Turkey’s Actions in Northeast Syria pic.twitter.com/ZCQC7nzmME
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
Trump also said he is “fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path.”
The commander in chief further related that U.S. forces would remain in the region to prevent ISIS from re-emerging.
Earlier in the day, the president tweeted that it is not the role of the U.S. military to protect Syria’s border with Turkey.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Friday that he pulled the small contingent of Americans troops from the border for their own safety and to keep them from getting involved in fighting between the Turks and Kurds.
Trump addressed the ongoing conflict on Saturday night at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
“I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders at home,” he said to applause from the evangelical audience. “I don’t think so.”
President Trump: “I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders at home. I don’t think so.” pic.twitter.com/7wCTqf30o6
— The Hill (@thehill) October 14, 2019
Trump also announced on Saturday that his administration had released $50 million to aid humanitarian groups working in Syria.
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