US-Turkey Completing Operations Center to Create Syria ‘Safe Zone’
A US-Turkey military center geared toward creating, and then monitoring, a “safe zone” in northern Syria will be fully operational by next week. “We have reached a general agreement on the coordination and control of air space and on numerous other matters,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters this weekend. The joint goal is for the buffer zone to be free of Al Qa’ida-linked terrorists – who control large swaths of Syria’s northwest Idlib Province – as well as US-backed Kurdish YPG units that Ankara considers an extension of the banned PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey with a view to gaining autonomy. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to launch a cross-border assault against the YPG, which form the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces that did most of the fighting on the ground during the US-led coalition’s campaign to defeat the Islamic State. The exact size of the safe zone remains unknown, although Turkey’s top diplomat claimed that President Donald Trump had promised it would be 20 miles wide and straddle Turkey’s shared border with Syria. Mevlut Cavusoglu added that observation posts would be erected and joint patrols conducted therein.