Creating new perspectives since 2009

Erdogan says safe zone on Syria border must be under Turkey's control

February 24, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Turkish President and leader of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan In Bursa, Turkey on 15 February 2019 [Turkish Presidency/Anadolu Agency]

Any safe zone along Turkey’s border with Syria must be under Turkish control, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, reported by Reuters.

He was speaking after a senior US administration official said on Friday Washington would leave about 400 US troops in Syria, a reversal by President Donald Trump that could pave the way for US allies to keep troops there. Erdogan said:

If there is to be a safe zone along our border then it must be under our control. Because that is my border

Trump ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops from Syria in December after saying they had defeated Daesh, a decision criticised by allies and US lawmakers.

He was persuaded on Thursday that about 200 US troops should join what is expected to be a total commitment of some 800 to 1,500 troops from European allies to set up a safe zone in northeastern Syria, a US administration official said.

Ankara regards the Kurdish YPG militia, which controls that region and has been a key US ally against Daesh, as a terrorist group. Turkey has repeatedly threatened to intervene militarily against the YPG east of the Euphrates river where the safe zone is planned.