US, Turkey agree to form joint operation center for Syria safe zone
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US, Turkey agree to form joint operation center for Syria safe zone

“Talks between Turkish and the US military delegations regarding establishment of a safe zone in the north of Syria were concluded,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. “The delegations agreed on the rapid implementation of initial measures to address Turkey’s security concerns, to set up as soon as possible a joint operations center in Turkey to coordinate and manage the establishment of the safe zone together and that the safe zone shall become a peace corridor, and that any additional measures shall be taken for our displaced Syrian brothers to return to their country,” the statement added. Earlier, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had said that talks with the United States aimed at averting a Turkish military intervention into northern Syria had been “positive.” “We witnessed with satisfaction that our partners grew closer to our position. The meetings were positive and quite constructive,” Akar said on Tuesday. On the same day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Turkey's determination to eliminate the presence of the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from areas bordering Turkey in northern Syria. Turkey views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group. The PKK has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984. “We will move the process which we started with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations to a different phase very soon,” Erdogan said at the 11th annual Ambassadors' Conference in the capital Ankara. He was referring to the two military offensives Ankara launched in 2016 and 2017 against the Kurdish militants. “Turkey has the right to eliminate all threats against its national security,” the Turkish president noted. Erdogan said his country would have to pay a heavy price if it fails to take what it describes as necessary measures in northern Syria, adding, “Drying up the terrorist swamp in northern Syria is our top priority.” 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. The United States has been arming and training Kurdish militants under the banner of helping them fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, 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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