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Iran Press TV

Russia, Kurdish militants reject US-proposed 'security zone' under Turkish control

Iran Press TV

Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:05AM

US-backed Kurdish militants have rejected Washington's proposal for the establishment of a "security zone" under Turkish control along the Syrian side of the two countries' border, saying it infringes on the sovereignty of the Arab country.

Aldar Khalil, a Syrian Kurdish politician and co-chair of the Democratic Society Movement, told AFP on Wednesday that the Kurds would accept the deployment of UN forces along the separation line between Kurdish militants and Turkish troops to ward off a threatened offensive.

"Other choices are unacceptable as they infringe on the sovereignty of Syria and the sovereignty of our autonomous region," he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Ankara would establish the "security zone" in northern Syria proposed by US President Donald Trump, a day after the two leaders held a phone conversation.

Erdogan noted that during a "quite positive" telephone conversation, Trump reaffirmed that "a 20-mile (30 kilometer) security zone along the Syrian border... will be set up by us."

"We could create such a safe zone if coalition forces, especially America, provide logistical and financial support," Erdogan added.

Ankara and Washington engaged in a war of words over the fate of the Kurdish militants in Syria following the planned withdrawal of American troops. Turkey views the Washington-backed militants as terrorists.

Trump threatened to devastate NATO ally Turkey economically if it launches attacks against the Kurdish militants in Syria when US troops leave the Arab country.

In response, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed that Turkey was "not scared of and will not be intimidated" by such rhetoric and that economic threats "will get nowhere."

'Syrian govt. must regain control of north'

Also, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reacted to Washington's proposal and said Wednesday that the Syrian government must wrest back control of the country's north.

"We are convinced that the best and only solution is the transfer of these territories under the control of the Syrian government, and of Syrian security forces and administrative structures," Lavrov told reporters.

The top Russian diplomat further said Moscow welcomed and supported "contacts that have now begun between Kurdish representatives and Syrian authorities so they can return to their lives under a single government without outside interference."

Lavrov further highlighted the progress in efforts to resolve Syria's seven-year conflict, and said the focus should remain on Idlib Province -- the last major militant stronghold in the country.

"The Syrian settlement is progressing, though of course more slowly than we would like," he said. "The fight against terrorism must be completed. Now the main hotbed of terrorism is Idlib."

Trump announced the plan to pull US forces out of Syria last month amid plans by Turkey to launch an operation against anti-Damascus Kurdish militants.

The Kurdish militants in northern Syria, who have long enjoyed US support, feel abandoned by Washington.

The US has been arming and training Kurdish militants under the banner of helping them fight Daesh, but Syria and several other countries see ulterior motives behind the deployment.

Turkey, a key US ally in the region, has repeatedly questioned Washington's deployment of heavy weapons in Syria despite the defeat of Daesh in much of the Arab country.

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