ISSN 2330-717X

Erdogan At Odds With Russia Over Control Of Syria-Turkey Safe Zone

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Moscow and Ankara are at odds over who would control a proposed “safe zone” along Turkey’s border with Syria, with Russia’s foreign minister saying on Sunday that Russian forces could do the policing.

Sergei Lavrov was quoted by Russian news agencies saying that Turkey had no right to set up the zone without seeking and receiving consent from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

On Saturday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said any safe zone along Turkey’s border with Syria must be under Turkish control, 

“If there is to be a safe zone along our border then it must be under our control. Because that is my border,” Erdogan said in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk.

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.

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.

Lavrov was cited as saying on Sunday that the format of the safe zone was in the process of being finalized by military leaders, and that any decision would take the interests of Damascus and Ankara into account as far as possible.

“We have experience in combining cease-fire agreements, safety measures and the creation of de-escalation zones with the roll-out of Russian military police,” Lavrov was cited as saying. “Such a possibility is being kept open for this buffer zone.” 

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

Arab News

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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