US proposes 'safe zone' in Afrin amid Turkish operation

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said his U.S. counterpart proposed a 30-kilometer (approx. 19 miles) safe zone in Syria's northwestern Afrin region, according to a diplomatic source on Wednesday.

On the sidelines of the assembly of foreign ministers' meeting, which was held in Paris on Tuesday, Çavuşoğlu met U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The Afrin issue topped the agenda in the meeting, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Tillerson told Çavuşoğlu that the proposed 30-km safe zone would address Turkey's security concerns, the source added.

At the meeting on Tuesday, foreign ministers and diplomats from 24 countries endorsed a set of commitments aimed at strengthening cooperation in the fight against chemical weapons, amid reports of a suspected attack using such prohibited weapons in Syria.

The commitment to the new plan, initiated by France, was made during a conference on International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.

Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council's decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being given to not harm any civilians.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.

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