Turkey says Syria safe zone center to start work next week

Following US delegation visit
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, US Air Force General Tod Wolters, speak at a NATO meeting in Brussels on June 26 | Photo: Reuters / Francois Walschaerts

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SULAIMANI — A joint Turkish-US operation center to establish and manage a safe zone in northeast Syria will be fully operational next week, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday (August 16).

Turkey and the United States agreed last week to set up the joint operations center for the proposed zone along Syria’s northeast border but gave few details, such as the size of the zone itself or the command structure of forces that would operate there, according to Reuters.

Earlier this week a US delegation visited southern Turkey to work on getting the center started, and Turkish drones began carrying out work in the area where the safe zone will be created, the defense ministry said.

“The joint operation center will start working with full capacity next week,” Akar was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Akar said that Turkish and US officials have agreed that Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters should be removed from the area and their heavy weapons should be taken.

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for northeastern Syria, where the YPG formed the main part of a US-backed force which fought against Islamic State. Turkey considers the YPG an enemy and a terrorist group.

“There has been certain progress. It marks a good start. There are still things to be done, the efforts will continue,” Akar was quoted as saying by Anadolu.

Ankara and Washington have also agreed in general terms about control and coordination of air space in the region, Akar said according to the news agency.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)