Erdogan says efforts with US for Syria safe zone on schedule
A US military convoy takes part in joint patrol with Turkish troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha along the border with Turkish troops, on Sept. 8, 2019. (Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images)
Date: 2019-09-27 11:50
Preparations by Turkey and the United States on a safe zone for refugees in northeastern Syria are on schedule, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Friday (Sep. 27) after previously accusing Washington of stalling.
The two NATO allies started joint land and air patrols along part of Syria’s border with Turkey. Ankara wants Washington to clear the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia from a 480-km-long (300-mile-long) border area, and Erdogan warned that Turkey would act unilaterally if the group was not removed.
Speaking to reporters on his return flight from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Erdogan was quoted by broadcaster NTV as saying, “Scheduled efforts are under way. As the schedule is moving along, all our preparations along the border are also complete.”
“Upon returning (to Turkey), we will hold evaluations on what sort of steps to take and implement them because Turkey is not a country that can be stalled,” he said.
At a briefing on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, US Special envoy to Syria James Jeffrey told reporters that Washington was moving “faithfully and as rapidly” as possible but warned against unilateral action in the region.
“We’ve made it clear to Turkey at every level that any unilateral operation is not going to lead to an improvement in anyone’s security,” Jeffrey said. “The Turks have an option of course to act militarily.”
“We worked up a safe zone proposal with everybody involved, that has the YPG pulling back its forces and its heavy weapons various distances depending on the location and the kind of activity,” Jeffrey said, adding that the YPG would also get rid of its fortifications in certain areas.
Turkey says the United States agreed that the safe zone should extend 30 km (18.64 miles) into Syria. Erdogan has said up to 2 million Syrian refugees could return to that area.
Based on Reuters