Turkish drones start operating in northern Syria: ministry

As it negotiates with US over safe zone
In this file photo taken on September 20, 2018, a Turkish unmanned aircraft (ANKA) is displayed during the Teknofest festival at Istanbul's new airport on September 20, 2018 in Istanbul. (AFP)

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SULAIMANI — Turkish drones have started operating in northern Syria where Washington and Ankara have agreed to create a safe zone, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday (August 14).

Turkey and the United States agreed last week to set up a joint operations center regarding the safe zone to be established in northern Syria. No agreement has been announced on key details such as the size of the zone and the command structure of joint patrols that would be conducted there, according to Reuters.

A six-person US delegation arrived in the southern Turkish province of Sanliurfa on Monday to work on the establishment of the operations center.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that work was continuing to make the joint operations center in Sanliurfa operational.

It added that Turkish drones had started carrying out work in the area where the safe zone will be created, but did not provide further information on the drones’ operations.

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for northeastern Syria, where US allies on the ground in the battle against Islamic State include the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey considers an enemy and a terrorist group.

The allies have been discussing a safe zone near the Turkish frontier that would be kept free of combatants and heavy weapons, but Turkey wants it to extend more than twice as far into Syrian territory as the United States has proposed.

Turkey has suggested it will act militarily if the United States fails to agree a solution that will safeguard the border.

Turkey says the YPG is an extension in Syria of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since the 1980s.

Washington and Ankara are also at odds over other issues, including Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, as well as the trial of local US consulate employees in Turkey on terrorism charges.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)