WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen called on the Trump administration on Monday to impose sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile defense system, saying the failure to do so sends a "terrible signal" to other countries.

"The time for patience has long expired. It is time you applied the law," Van Hollen and Graham said in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seen by Reuters. "Failure to do so is sending a terrible signal to other countries that they can flout U.S. laws without consequence," they said.

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Turkey launched a military assault against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria on Wednesday after President Trump cleared the way by pulling American troops out of the region — a move that prompted bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill.

But, as Turkish ground troops began invading the Kurdish-controlled territories Wednesday afternoon after a volley of airstrikes, Trump sent mixed signals and threatened to impose "far more than sanctions" on Turkey if it doesn't handle the volatile situation in a "humane way."

"I've already told that to President Erdogan: far more than sanctions. I'll do far more than sanctions," Trump said during an unrelated event at the White House, referring to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "I will tell you that I do agree on sanctions, but I think much tougher, if he does not do it in a humane way."

The president did not explain what "far more than sanctions" meant or what a "humane" Turkish invasion of Syria would look like. "We're going to have to define that as we go along," he said.

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's ambassador to Britain warned against escalating tensions on Sunday as a UK official declined to rule out sanctions in response to Tehran's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker.

Britain has called Iran's capture of the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday a "hostile act".

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Stephen McHugh via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday accused of bringing oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, a dramatic step that could escalate confrontation between the West and Iran.

The Grace 1 tanker was impounded in the British territory at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea after sailing around Africa from Middle East.

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(Reuters photo)

DUBAI (Reuters) - President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if the Islamic Republic attacked "anything American," as Iran said the latest U.S. sanctions had closed off any chance of diplomacy.

"Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force," Trump tweeted just days the United States came within minutes of bombing Iranian targets.

"In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration," the U.S. president tweeted.

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(Reuters/Carlos Barria)

President Donald Trump on Monday mistakenly named a supreme leader of Iran who has been dead since 1989 as the target of new U.S. sanctions.

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