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US efforts to create Syria safe zone largely ‘cosmetic’: Turkey

US efforts to create Syria safe zone largely ‘cosmetic’: Turkey

AFP
Ankara
The United States’ efforts to create a buffer zone in northern Syria have so far been largely “cosmetic”, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, as he accused Washington of stalling.
NATO allies Turkey and the US agreed last month to set up the buffer zone in Syria to keep Kurdish forces away from the Turkish border, launching joint patrols in the area on Sunday.
“There have been some joint patrols, yes, but steps taken beyond that... are only cosmetic,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara. The safe zone is intended to create a buffer between Turkey and Syrian areas controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Although Ankara regards the YPG as a “terrorist” offshoot of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey, Washington sees it as a crucial ally against the Islamic State group.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also said the conduct of joint patrols was “correct” but “not enough,” adding that Turkey needed its own sources, not American intelligence, to confirm that an area is safe.
“To follow the developments on the ground, our soldiers and experts must be in the field and we must confirm what’s happening based on our own sources,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
Cavusoglu warned the US against any delay in removing YPG positions from the border area, referring to previous warnings that it is prepared to launch unilateral operations against the group.
Kalin said the safe zone must be created “as soon as possible” without any “delaying tactic”.
Turkey is worried about a repeat of the Manbij deal it struck with the US last year.

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