US, Turkey fail to agree on Syrian safe zone details, says Çavuşoğlu

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New US proposals for a safe zone in northern Syria do not satisfy Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday, adding that an agreement on the issue needs to be reached as soon as possible because Ankara has no patience left, Reuters reported. 

Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization. The NATO allies have agreed to create a safe zone in northern Syria following the withdrawal of US forces from the area, which Turkey wants to be cleared of YPG militants. 

The YPG, which spearheads the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, has been the main US ally on the ground in Syria during Washington’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

US Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey was in Ankara this week for talks on details of the safe zone. 

At a news conference in Ankara on Wednesday, Çavuşoğlu said the two allies had failed to agree on how deep the safe zone would be, who would control it and whether the YPG would be completely removed from the area.

“We got the impression that they want to enter a stalling process here as in Manbij,” Çavuşoğlu said, referring to a roadmap agreed last year to clear a northern Syrian town of YPG fighters. “We need to reach an agreement regarding the safe zone as soon as possible because have no patience left.” 

Çavuşoğlu also said that US military officials meeting with a YPG leader on Monday — the same day as Jeffrey’s talks at the foreign ministry — indicated Washington was not sincere.

He said on Monday that if the safe zone in northern Syria is not established, and if threats continue against Turkey, Ankara would launch a military operation east of the Euphrates River, a move that Ankara has threatened in the past. 

Ankara is also working with Russia and Iran, allies of the Syrian government, to establish a constitutional committee — a long-awaited step in stalled effort to resolve the country’s civil war. 

Asked about the details of a recent phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Çavuşoğlu said the establishment of the constitutional committee could be announced in the coming days.

Turkish Minute

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