Turkey, United States talk over safe zone in northern region of war-torn Syria
After welcoming U.S. Syria envoy James Jeffrey to the Turkish capital Ankara for a two-day visit, Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that the planned safe zone east of the Euphrates River should be established jointly by Turkey and the U.S. in a coordinated manner.
Turkey's defense minister met with the U.S.' Syria envoy on Monday to discuss recent developments in Syria and establishing a safe zone there, the Defense Ministry announced.
After welcoming James Jeffrey to the Turkish capital Ankara for a two-day visit, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the planned safe zone east of the Euphrates River should be established jointly by Turkey and the U.S. in a coordinated manner.
On the presence of the terrorist groups PKK/YPG and Daesh, Akar said their fortifications should be destroyed and heavy weapons collected.
The U.S. has supported the PKK/YPG -- the Syria branch of the terrorist PKK, which has killed thousands of innocents in Turkey -- supposedly to fight Daesh, leading to friction between Washington and Ankara.
Akar reiterated that Turkey's fight in the region is not against a specific ethno-religious group like Kurds or Arabs but against terrorists of the PKK/YPG and Daesh, and the conditions for Syrian refugees' return must be created.
Meetings between PKK/YPG terrorist leaders and U.S. officials, including military officials, irritated Turkey, Akar said, citing a meeting reported today between YPG leader Malum Abdi, U.S. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, and Ambassador William Roebuck.
The officials agreed at today's meeting that military delegations from both sides would kick off joint work at the Defense Ministry Tuesday on establishing a safe zone, the ministry announced.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria -- Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch -- to purge the region of terrorist groups, most notably the PKK/YPG, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK.
Last Friday, Akar told acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper: "The only military force that is ready, competent, and appropriate for the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria is the Turkish Armed Forces."