New Turkish-US talks to establish a safe area in the Syrian north
Turkish Defense Ministry announced the start of a second round of talks between US and Turkish military officials in Ankara on the establishment of a safe area in northern Syria.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that his country told America and Russia of their intention to enter the area of East Euphrates to stop what he described as "provocative strikes aimed at Turkey from there."
A previous round was held between the Turkish and US sides last July, when Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Gawishoglu said that the two sides had not reached an agreement because Ankara was not satisfied with the offer made by Washington.
The safe or buffer zone in the Syrian north is a demand that Turkey seeks to protect against security threats. It is part of efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis, which begins with stopping the war and providing the necessary conditions for the return of the refugees.
The Washington Post reported that a senior delegation from the Pentagon visited the Turkish capital Ankara today in the latest effort to prevent a Turkish military operation against the Kurdish people's protection units in northern Syria.
The paper said, quoting US officials, that the delegation would present in its meetings with Turkish officials a final offer to address Turkish concerns.
People's protection units control the town of Manbaj, located in the eastern suburb of Aleppo (west of the Euphrates River). It also controls vast areas east of the river, where US forces are located in those areas.
The American offer
The US offer will include a joint military operation between the two sides to secure a buffer zone south of the Turkish-Syrian border at a depth of nine miles (14.4 km) and a length of 87 miles (140 km) will withdraw from the Kurdish fighters. US forces and the Turkish army will also destroy Kurdish fortifications and conduct joint patrols in the area.
The Washington Post said Turkey had previously rejected the proposal and insisted on a safe zone at least 20 miles (32 km) in length, with unilaterally controlled control.
The Turkish president said at the opening ceremony of the international road between the cities of Bursa and Izmir that his country "can not remain silent with the continued provocative strikes coming from the region of East Euphrates," adding that Turkey's patience borders.
"We have carried out operations in Afrin, Tripoli and Bab (Aleppo governorate), and now we will carry out the operation east of the Euphrates River in Syria," Erdogan said.