08/23/2019, 18.16
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Turkey and US to create safe zone in northern Syria

Turkey wants a 32-km zone to wrest control of areas currently held by the US-backed, Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG). Ankara considers the latter as allies of the PKK, which it deems a terrorist group.


Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A security zone in northern Syria appears to be in the making. Turkish news agency Anadolou has reported that the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his US counterpart Mark Esper spoke over the phone on Wednesday and agreed to start implementing it.

The United States and Turkey thus seem to have overcome their differences over the depth of the zone and who should control it, which had delayed the deal for months. The first phase should start this week with joint Turkish and US patrols.

In a joint statement released on 7 August, the two NATO allies said the safe zone would become a "peace corridor", but did not provide details.  At the time, the Syrian government called the agreement a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty.

A joint operations centre is to be created in Sanliurfa in Turkey's southeast, 130 kilometres from the border with Syria and about 330 kilometres from Idlib, inside Syria, where bombardment of rebel groups is ongoing.

Turkey would like the security zone to be 32 kilometres deep in order to take control from the US-backed, Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG). For Ankara, the YPG is allied with the PKK, a group it deems terrorist.

For its part, the US wants to limit the safe zone to 10 kilometres and prevent any Turkish action east of the Euphrates.

Military sources said the zone will be implemented "step by step". The first phase will start with five kilometres deep. More will follow.

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