‘Turkey can make Syria safe zone without US agreement’

ANKARA

If efforts to find common ground with the U.S. prove unsuccessful, Turkey will have to create a safe zone in Syria on its own, said Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Friday.

Talks on the issue will continue with a U.S. military delegation due in Turkey next Monday, ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told a press conference.

On the issue, Turkey expects the creation of a 32-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone in northern Syria, giving Turkey control of this region, which must be cleared of the terrorist groups PYD/YPG, Syrian branches of the PKK, he said.

All aspects of the safe zone and the Syrian conflict have been discussed during recent visits to Turkey by James Jeffrey, the U.S. envoy for the anti-Daesh coalition, Aksoy added.

But Aksoy warned that Turkey’s patience is limited.

“We won’t let this process be dragged out. If our expectations aren’t met, we are fully capable of taking whatever measures [are needed] to ensure our national security.”

He stressed that Turkey wants to clear the area of all terror elements and establish a “peace corridor.”

In July, Jeffrey and Turkey’s National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar met in the capital Ankara and agreed on the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria.

But on Thursday Jeffrey told reporters in Washington that differences with Turkey over how the zone would operate, as well as its size, are delaying the zone’s implementation.

Clearing terror groups from safe zone

In recent years Turkey and Washington have clashed over the terrorist PYD/YPG, branches of the terrorist PKK.

The U.S. has supported these groups in the fight against Daesh, while Turkey argues that using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.

Those groups must be cleared out of any Syria safe zone, Turkey insists.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.

Source: AA