Turkey’s Erdogan okays Syria ‘security zone’ proposed by Trump
search

Turkey’s Erdogan okays Syria ‘security zone’ proposed by Trump

Announcement of ‘agreement of historic importance’ comes after US president threatened to devastate Turkish economy if Ankara launched offensive against US-allied Kurdish fighters

A Turkish military convoy at Kirikhan, in Hatay region at the Syria border, on January 12, 2019. (STRINGER / DHA / AFP)
A Turkish military convoy at Kirikhan, in Hatay region at the Syria border, on January 12, 2019. (STRINGER / DHA / AFP)

ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Ankara would set up a “security zone” in northern Syria suggested by US President Donald Trump.

Erdogan said he held a “quite positive” telephone conversation with Trump late on Monday where he reaffirmed that “a 20-mile (30 kilometer) security zone along the Syrian border… will be set up by us.”

Turkey has welcomed the planned withdrawal of some 2,000 US troops from Syria but the future of US-backed Kurdish militia forces regarded as terrorists by Ankara has poisoned Ankara-Washington ties.

Trump on Sunday tweeted that the United States would “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” a threat that drew angry retorts from the government in Ankara.

Erdogan on Tuesday said Trump’s tweet “saddened me and my friends,” but added that the two leaders reached an agreement during Monday’s phone conversation.

US President Donald Trump (L) and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) arrive for the NATO summit, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, July 11, 2018 US (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Tatyana ZENKOVICH)

“We have reached an agreement of understanding that is of historic importance,” he said.

Erdogan said Turkey would solve issues with a “spirit of alliance” with Trump as long as his country’s sensitivities were taken into account.

US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) during the Syria conflict has been a major source of friction between the NATO allies. The US regards the YPG as an effective ground force in the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists.

In this photo from April 28, 2017, US forces, accompanied by Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, drive their armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

Ankara has however threatened to launch a cross-border operation to eradicate Syrian Kurdish fighters it sees as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK is blacklisted by Turkey as well as by the United States.

read more:
less
comments
more