Targeting Turkey's economy, President Donald Trump has announced sanctions aimed at restraining the Turks' assault against Kurdish fighters and civilians in Syria — an assault Turkey began after Mr Trump announced he was moving US troops out of the way.

The president yesterday authorised sanctions on the country's leaders, reimposed steel tariffs and ended trade negotiations to protest Turkey's offensive into Syria.

"I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path," Mr Trump said in a blistering statement, news.com.au reports.

The president said he had issued an executive order to allow sanctions on sitting and former Turkish officials — although he has apparently not yet imposed them — and was immediately ending talks on a US-Turkey trade deal.

Advertisement

He said he was reimposing 50 per cent tariffs on Turkish steel — one of a series of measures used last year to win the release of a detained US pastor which contributed to a plunge in the value of the country's lira currency.

In May, Mr Trump reduced tariffs back to 25 per cent — in line with levels the protectionist-minded president has imposed on other trading partners including the European Union.

Mr Trump has come under heavy criticism at home for appearing to give his blessing to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who links Syrian Kurdish fighters to separatist militants at home.

Less than an hour before the statement, Mr Trump was on Twitter defending a hands-off stance, saying that Syria's Kurds were not the business of the United States and that anyone was welcome to assist them "whether it is Russia, China or Napoleon Bonaparte."

But he took action a day before the US Congress is set to return to session, with politicians across party lines deploring what they see as an abandonment of Kurdish allies who fought to destroy the Islamic State group.

In the statement, Mr Trump said Turkey had not mitigated the humanitarian impact of its operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

"I have been perfectly clear with President Erdogan: Turkey's action is precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes," he said.

"Turkey must ensure the safety of civilians, including religious and ethnic minorities, and is now, or may be in the future, responsible for the ongoing detention of ISIS terrorists in the region," he said.

Advertisement

SYRIA INVASION 'THREATENS A NEW HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE'

More than 130,000 people have been displaced with 260 people killed and 40 towns and villages taken under Turkish control in just 96 hours of Operation Peace Spring into northeastern Syria.

Smoke billows from fires on targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces. Photo / AP
Smoke billows from fires on targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces. Photo / AP

Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published a graphic of the region and said there have been rapid developments with "fierce clashes" that have led to a "spike in death toll in the ranks of both parties."

Major changes have unfolded in the country since Turkey's invasion — including shifting alliances and army movements. The US has also withdrawn its troops.

The group said the number of people displaced and citizens killed "threatens a new humanitarian catastrophe" with women and children among the dead.

It claimed around 800 family members of IS fighters managed to "exploit the chaos" to flee the Ayn Issa Camp and 41 areas of the 220km border region have come under Turkish control.

UNICEF confirmed 70,000 of the displaced were children, and that at least 170,000 children in the region "could need humanitarian assistance as a result of ongoing violence in the area."

SYRIAN TROOPS MOVE INTO FLASHPOINT CITY

It comes as Syrian regime troops entered the key Syrian city of Manbij, state news agency SANA said on Monday, after Damascus deployed troops to the country's north to contain a days-long Turkish offensive.

A local official in Manbij, controlled by a military council linked to the Kurdish administration, confirmed that troops had "entered (Manbij) and deployed on front lines".

The Syrian army had dispatched a limited number of troops around Manbij last year at the request of Kurdish forces to protect the area from a feared Turkish assault.