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‘Turkey to control proposed safe zone in northern Syria’

Turkish Armed Forces' tanks are being dispatched from Hatay to support the units at the Syrian's Idlib border, in Hatay, Turkey on January 11, 2019 [Erdal Türkoğlu / Anadolu Agency]
Turkish Armed Forces' tanks are being dispatched from Hatay to support the units at the Syrian's Idlib border, in Hatay, Turkey on January 11, 2019 [Erdal Türkoğlu / Anadolu Agency]

A proposed safe zone in northern Syria along Turkish border will be under Ankara’s control, the country’s presidential aide said on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reports.

Speaking to the reporters following a Cabinet meeting in Ankara, Ibrahim Kalin said, “Fight against terrorism and terror groups targeting Turkey will continue in every area.”

On Monday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone call with his US counterpart Donald Trump, discussing the idea of establishing a 32-kilometer (20-mile) terror-free safe zone in northern Syria.

The phone call came after Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” conflating “Kurds” with the terrorist PKK/YPG in Syria, a conflation that Turkey has repeatedly criticized.

Kalin highlighted that Turkey’s aim in Syria’s Idlib was to ensure the safety of people’s lives and property.

About a Russian-Turkish contract for the purchase of S-400 air defense systems, Kalin said it “has nothing to do with deal for US Patriot missiles.”

READ: US, Turkey at odds over Kurdish fighters in Syria 

“Turkey will buy military technology from any countries in line with its national security interests and military plans,” Kalin said.

The presidential aide said the US delegation last week gave Turkey a five-item and legally non-binding paper about its forces’ pullout from Syria.

“To sum up with just the headlines, [the paper] was confirming the US decision to pull out [from Syria] and stating that fight against Daesh will continue. One thing that we disagreed was some demands suggesting rearrangements especially about PYD/YPG. The paper also states that the US will continue protecting the air space as part of the coalition in the region,” Kalin said.

– Turkey’s demands

He said Turkey also gave a paper to the US delegation in return.

We stated that we approved the US decision to pull out. We said Turkey’s fight against Daesh will resolutely continue. We underlined that the terrorist organizations including Daesh, PKK and YPG should not be given any space,

Kalin said.

The Manbij roadmap, its extension to the east of Euphrates River and collection of the arms that was previously delivered to the PYD/YPG were among the demands the Turkish side made, he added.

Last week, a US delegation — including National Security Adviser John Bolton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey — took part in talks at the presidential complex in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

In a surprising move, Trump last month announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

Trump made the decision during a phone call with Erdogan, in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.

Turkey has repeatedly objected to US support for the terrorist PKK/PYD as a “reliable ally” in Syria, which has included supplying arms and equipment.

In its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the terrorist PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The YPG/PKK is the PKK’s Syrian branch.

Kalin also briefed that Erdogan will pay a one-day visit to Moscow on Jan. 23, which is expected to touch on “bilateral issues and Syria crisis.”

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