Turkey-U.S. to Establish Safe Zone in Northeast Syria

Ankara and Washington have agreed to establish a joint operation center to coordinate and manage a planned safe zone in northeast Syria, a move that appeared to reduce the chance of an imminent Turkish military invasion.

Speaking during a joint news conference in Ankara with his Ukrainian counterpart, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that talks with the United States had progressed in a “really positive” direction. He said: “The question of whether a step being taken or not is answered, the step is being taken together. What really mattered here was the issue of this step being taken on the east of the Euphrates, and this is now being realized together with the Americans.”

According to the Turkish leader, the process regarding the safe zone would begin with the operation center being formed, stating that: “It has been decided that a joint operation center will be established with the Americans. The process will begin with the operation center being formed.”

According to the London-based News Agency, Reuters, “Washington proposed a two-tier safe zone, with a 5-kilometre demilitarized strip, bolstered by an additional 9 kilometers that will be cleared of heavy weapons” – stretching in total less than half the distance into Syria than initially demanded by Turkey.