Turkey to create safe zone by itself if can't come to agreement with US, Defense Min. says
Turkey will have to form the safe zone in Syria by itself if it cannot come to an agreement with the U.S., Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told his American counterpart on Monday, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.
Akar held a phone call with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, telling him one more time that Turkey expects the U.S. to fully withdraw its support from the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian offshoot People's Protection Units (YPG)-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
"If Turkey, US don't find common ground, Ankara will be obliged to create a safe zone on its own," Akar said.
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.
Turkey had long signaled a possible offensive in areas held by the YPG east of the Euphrates. However, last December the government decided to postpone the operation for a while after U.S. President Donald Trump decided that Washington, the main backer of the terrorist group, would withdraw its troops from Syria.
The withdrawal decision was quickly interpreted as an intention to halt U.S. support for the YPG, which Turkey sees as a terrorist organization. Yet, in the face of mounting hints that the country will maintain its support to the terrorist organization and contradictory statements from officials on the pullout process, officials from Ankara and Washington have been discussing setting up a 32-km deep safe zone to ease Turkey's security concerns. However, no actions were taken also on this issue.