US working with Turkey to create Syria safe zone, Jeffrey says
The U.S. is working with Turkey to establish a safe zone without the presence of the People's Protection Units (YPG), a top U.S. official said Monday.
Washington will work with Ankara to ensure the PKK/YPG terrorist group does not create a threat to Turkey in the establishment of a safe zone in Syria next to the Turkish border, the U.S. special envoy to Syria said Monday.
James Jeffrey said Washington acknowledges the security concerns Turkey has with the withdrawal of American troops first announced in December by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The special envoy made a similar statement last month with the establishment of a safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border, where YPG forces, the Syrian affiliate of PKK terror group, would be withdrawn from so that they do not pose a security risk to Turkey.
"And we would work with Turkey to ensure that that zone remains free of any threat to Turkey and introduces stability," Jeffrey said at a conference on American-Turkish relations in Washington.
The U.S. allied itself with the PKK/YPG to fight Daesh in Syria but Turkey argued that using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.
Turkey also does not want former U.S. bases to fall into the hands of terrorists after the withdrawal, saying they should either be destroyed or handed over to the Turkish army.
Since Washington declared the pullout of American troops, Turkey has been warning of the power vacuum it could create in the region.
"The United States also has its own security concerns, including with the people that we fought with against Daesh, and working us a way forward is something that we're very intensively doing right now," Jeffrey said.
"We have a very strong partner in Turkey in this conflict," he added.
The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people.