Turkey and US conduct 1st ground patrol of Syria’s ‘security zone’

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TEL ABYAD – US and Turkish troops on Sunday carried out the first joint ground patrol of the northern Syrian security zone, an international news agency reported.

Six Turkish-flagged vehicles have joined US-flagged cars in Syria, about 15 km east of the Turkish border town of Akcakale, east of the Euphrates, near the Syrian city of Tel Abyad, according to Anadolu.

Previously, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed his intention to establish, by the end of September, a “safe zone” with the United States in northeastern Syria.

The Turkish leader said in early September that his country would not accept any delay in creating a “safe zone” in the Arab country and would set it up alone if negotiations with the US resulted in nothing.

Buffer zone

In August, Ankara and Washington agreed to create a “safe area” east of the Euphrates River, which would serve as a buffer zone between the Turkish border and the Syrian areas controlled by Washington-backed Kurdish militias that Ankara considers terrorists.

Tensions between Ankara and the Kurds increased in July 2015 when a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ended over a series of attacks allegedly committed by militants in that party.

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US armored vehicles in Syria

Damascus protested against the agreement which, in its view, threatens Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and violates international law.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up mainly of Kurdish fighters, said they were ready to support the construction of a security zone in northern Syria in exchange for protection by the international community in the event of a foreign invasion, they said earlier this year.

An SDF commander stressed that such assistance would include “protecting all ethnic groups (residents in the area) from the danger of genocide.”

The SDF said they posed no threat to any country, including Turkey, and said they hoped to “achieve mutual understanding for stability and security in border areas” with Ankara.

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