Ankara and Washington agreed to set up a joint operations center in southeastern Turkey to set up a security zone in northeastern Syria and control it. Turkish Defense Minister Aika said today that the joint operations center will be fully operational next week.
The Anadolu Agency quoted Hulusi Akar as saying that the control and coordination of the safe area airspace has generally reached consensus.
Aika, Chief of Staff, Yasar Guler, and other high-ranking military commanders went to Sanliurfa in southeastern China to inspect the troops in preparation for the joint operations center. The six-member team of US officials has been stationed in Shanle Urfa on the 12th.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to send troops to the east bank of the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria. Turkey and the United States, two NATO allies, reached a consensus on setting up a joint operations center in Turkey to manage the security zone on the 7th to avoid Ankara’s one-sided military action.
Turkey is worried about the emergence of the Kurdish militia group People’s Defence Force (YPG). Ankara believes that YPG is an illegal branch of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). PKK seeks to establish an independent Kurdish country and has been involved in bloody rebellion in parts of Turkey for more than 30 years.
However, during the fight against radical armed groups in the Islamic State (IS), the United States fought side by side with YPG in Syria and provided weapons and air fire support to the Kurdish militia. Washington’s position on the Kurdish militia is at odds with Ankara, causing friction between the two sides.
US President Trump announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria at the end of last year, and announced on March 22 this year that IS has been completely defeated. Since the beginning of last year, Turkey and the United States have been discussing the establishment of a safe zone in the northeastern part of Syria.
Aika said today that the Turkish and American officials agreed that the YPG militia fighters should evacuate the area and disarm the heavy weapons.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said yesterday that the above-mentioned agreement to set up a safe zone is “just a beginning” and will reach a consensus on further details in the future.
He also said that Trump promised that the buffer zone will be deep into Syria for 32 kilometers, in line with Turkey’s requirements. Ankara stressed that this area could be safe when there were no more Kurdish militias in the area.