Turkey, US agree to set up Syria safe zone operation centre

Saturday, 10 Aug, 2019

Turkish and USA officials issued a statement in which they said they will set up "as soon as possible" a joint operations center that would be based in Turkey.

Turkey has for weeks been pressing to establish a 30-40km deep zone within Syria, seeking the removal of the YPG from the area and the destruction of their tunnels and fortifications.

In two previous military incursions, Turkey entered northwestern Syria, expelling Islamic State militants and Syrian Kurdish fighters from the area and setting up Turkish military posts there, with allied Syrian opposition fighters in control. In the past month, officials have also expressed impatience over talks with the U.S. regarding the safe zone.

"Syria's Kurds who have accepted to become a tool in this aggressive US-Turkish project bear a historical responsibility" the source added, urging Kurdish groups to return to the fold.

Heras said the goal for the United States was to prevent the destruction of the Syrian Democratic Forces, of which the YPG is the leading force, to ensure it remains the dominant player in northern and eastern Syria.

The talks are a last-minute attempt to prevent Turkish troops from invading Syria and begin an offensive against pro-U.S.

The database includes former Isis commander Isma'il Firas al-Abbar, who is now a brigade leader in the FSA operating in Afrin and former Isis fighter Basil Nayef al-Shehab, now a commander in the Sultan Murad division, which receives military equipment and training from Turkey. But the government in Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist organization.

Syria has accused Turkey of "expansionist ambitions", saying Ankara's agreement with the U.S. to set up a so-called safe zone in the north east of the country only helps such plans and is a violation of Syria's sovereignty.

Turkey accuses the YPG of being an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been engaged in an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1978.

The deal was reached days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the Turkish military was about to launch an assault on US -backed Kurdish forces in Syria, who were integral to the battlefield success against the terror group.

Eastern Euphrates and that region are largely controlled by the Kurdish forces with the presence of USA troops and military advisors.

Turkish and American military officials had been meeting in Ankara for several days when they reached the deal on Wednesday.

The minister also underlined that the US has to collect the weapons it delivered to the YPG.

The Manbij deal between Turkey and the US focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the northern part of Syria's Aleppo province.

Renewed fighting in northwest Syria after a brief ceasefire has triggered "total panic", a top United Nations official said Thursday, warning that a possible regime offensive in the area was "like playing with fire". The area is now controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had threatened an attack earlier if a safe zone agreement feel through.