Turkey, US agree to launch 1st phase of so-called safe zone plan in northern Syria
Iran Press TV
Thu Aug 22, 2019 01:55PM
Turkey and the United States have reached an agreement to immediately launch the first phase of a so-called safe zone plan in northern Syria, irrespective of the Damascus government's strong opposition that the scheme amounts to "blatant aggression" against Syria's territorial integrity.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his US counterpart Mark Esper discussed the plan during a telephone conversation late on Wednesday, and decided to implement the measure from Thursday.
The two defense chiefs also agreed that military delegations from the two countries will meet in Ankara soon to discuss next stages of the plan.
Akar said the safe zone east of the Euphrates River in Syria should be established within the framework of the principles set out in the calendar without losing time, according to a Turkish Defense Ministry statement.
On August 7, Turkey and the US reached an agreement on the establishment of a joint operation center in the northern part of Syria, in the wake of Ankara's threats to launch an operation against Kurdish militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG) to push them away from the Turkish border.
Turkey views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
Turkey expects the creation of a 32-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone in northern Syria, and has stressed that it wants the YPG cleared from the region.
An unnamed source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates told the official SANA news agency on August 8 that the US-Turkey agreement over the establishment of a so-called safe zone in Syria amounted to "blatant aggression" against the Arab country's territorial integrity and was a "flagrant violation" of international law and the UN Charter.
"This agreement has very clearly exposed the US-Turkish partnership in the aggression against Syria, which serves the interest of the Israeli occupation entity and the Turkish expansionist ambitions," the source said.
He also urged Kurdish militants to reconsider their position and stand by the Syrians in defending their country.
"Syria calls on the international community and the UN to condemn the US-Turkish flagrant aggression which constitutes a dangerous escalation and poses a threat to peace and security in the region and the world and hinders all positive efforts for finding a solution to the crisis in Syria," he said.
Michael Lane, founder of the American Institute for Foreign Policy, told Press TV on August 13 that the US plan to set up a joint command center with Turkey to coordinate a so-called safe zone in Syria is aimed at blocking the Syrian army's advances on the battlefield against foreign-backed militants.
"The United States is trying to disrupt the consolidation of the Syrian government over its country so that it keeps it distracted by that particular task," and prevent it from working with its allies, namely Iran and Russia, in the battle against terrorism, he said.
"The United States purpose or vision is to keep Syria from becoming part of a triangle of Iran, Russia and Syria," Lane commented.
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