Erdogan Reveals Turkey-US Disagreement at 'Every Step' on Syria Safe Zone
09:56 08.09.2019(updated 17:49 08.09.2019)
According to media reports, armed Turkish military vehicles crossed into northeast Syria on Sunday to begin planned joint US-Turkey patrols.
Turkey disagreed with the US 'at every step' while negotiating the establishment of a 'safe zone' in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, as quoted by Reuters.
"We are negotiating with the U.S. for the safe zone, but we see at every step that what we want and what they have in mind is not the same thing," he said. "It seems that our ally is looking for a safe zone for the terrorist organization, not for us. We reject such understanding," Erdogan said.
Earlier on Sunday, the Turkish Defence Ministry announced that Turkish and US armed forces started their joint patrols in a safe zone in Northeastern Syria.
"As a part of efforts to create a safe zone in the north of Syria to the east of the Euphrates, the Turkish and US military have started joint ground patrols using transport vehicles and drones to the south of Akcakale, on the Syrian side," the Defence Ministry said.
The ministry added that six Turkish armoured vehicles also participated in patrols.
Syria condemns joint US-Turkish patrols in border strip in northeast Syria and says it is "flagrant violation" of the country's sovereignty, according to an official statement.
Damascus believes that "this step is aggression and is aimed at prolonging the crisis in Syria," the Syrian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed his intention to establish a 'safe zone' in northeast Syria together with the United States by the end of September.
Erdogan said last week that his country would not stand any delays in creating a "safe zone" in Syria and would establish it alone if talks with the US fail to produce results.
In August, Ankara and Washington agreed to create a safe zone to the east of the Euphrates River that would serve as a buffer zone between the Turkish border and Syrian areas controlled by US-backed Kurdish militias, which Turkey considers to be terrorists.
The Syrian government has opposed the US-Turkish agreement, labeling it as a violation of both Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as a violation of international law.
However, according to the leader of the Turkish Vatan political party, Turkey's creation of a safe zone to the east of Euphrates is a tactical manoeuvre to make the United States stop supporting the Kurds.
Tensions between Ankara and the Kurds escalated in July 2015 when a ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed over a series of attacks allegedly committed by the PKK militants.
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