Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas Bergeson and U.S. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Twitty from the U.S. European Command are to meet with Turkey’s General Staff to discuss implementation of the safe zone along Turkey’s border in Syria, announced U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) on Monday.
Future support by the United States for the Combined Joint Operations Center (CJOC) will be discussed in the meeting, CENTCOM said.
The CJOC was established as part of a deal between the United States and Turkey for patrolling and other security activity to be conducted in the safe zone in northern Syria.
The first joint patrol was held on Sunday, with 7 U.S.-flagged armoured vehicles present in the patrol. Preliminary flyovers with drones and helicopters have been in action since early August.
“The U.S. and Turkey are working together to rapidly implement the security mechanism and are on time or ahead of schedule in many areas,” said the CENTCOM statement.
The security measures being implemented in the region will prevent a resurgence of ISIS in north-east Syria, mainly under control of U.S.-allied majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The success of this venture will allow the Global Coalition Against ISIS, led by the United States, and the SDF to “remain focused on defeating ISIS”, it said.
Turkey considers the SDF and its main military component the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be the Syrian arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who has been engaged in an armed conflict with Turkey for over 30 years and is included in the list of terrorist organisations by both Turkey and the United States.
Turkey has expressed a desire to launch extensive military operations against the region under SDF’s control, which would have included Manbij – where U.S. troops are stationed.