Turkey’s patience on Syria safe zone deal with US ran out, FM says

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DAILY SABAH

Turkey has not agreed with the U.S. on the depth of the safe zone in Syria, who will control it and the removal of People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorists from the area, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Wednesday.

“There has been an increase in the terrorist threat from northern Syria, so we started preparations for a military operation again; Turkey’s patience has run out,” Çavuşoğlu said during a joint news conference with his Nicaraguan Counterpart Denis Moncada Colindres in Ankara.

Çavuşoğlu noted that he conveyed Turkey’s concerns regarding the violation of the ceasefire in northwestern Idlib province and that they may soon announce the establishment of a committee to revise Syria’s constitution.

“New U.S. proposals on a Syria safe zone are not at all satisfactory for Turkey,” the foreign minister said, and added: “We have the impression that the U.S. is in the process of procrastination like they were in Manbij.”

The minister continued by saying that Turkey wants to reach an agreement through convincing suggestions by the U.S. or through its own suggestions.

Çavuşoğlu’s comments follow a visit by U.S. special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey, who arrived in Turkey earlier this week.

Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın, who held a meeting with Jeffrey on Wednesday, also told the U.S. envoy that the establishment of Syria safe zone is only possible when the plan meets Turkey’s expectations.

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.”

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.

 

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