Turkish, U.S. military commanders hold talks on safe zone in Syria

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-10 23:06:48|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

ANKARA, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Turkish and U.S. commanders held a meeting in Ankara on Tuesday on the safe zone in Syria and the discussion will continue at the joint operations center in Akcakale district of southern Sanliurfa province, Turkey's Minister of Defense said.

Deputy Commanders from U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) met with Turkish General Staff leaders in Ankara early this week to discuss key topics related to the implementation of the northeastern Syria security mechanism, USEUCOM said in a written statement.

USEUCOM's U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Twitty and USCENTCOM's U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson will visit the Turkish General Staff headquarters in Ankara, said the ministry in its Twitter account.

The commanders will "discuss future support for the combined joint operations center (CJOC) and other key activities that support security mechanism progress and management," said the USEUCOM in a written statement.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara expected Washington to stand with it on the issue of the safe zone. "But, we are uncomfortable with the U.S. providing equipment and ammunition to these terrorists with almost 50,000 trucks," he said.

On the same day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized the United States of "failing to keep its promises," including on the Manbij roadmap, due to "the U.S. engagement with the terrorist organization."

On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. officials agreed to set up a safe zone and develop a "peace corridor" in northern Syria which would address Ankara's security concerns about a Kurdish faction that controls the territory. The deal envisages withdrawal of the People's Protection Units (YPG) towards the south of the safe zone. The safe zone would also facilitate the return of displaced Syrians currently living in Turkey to their home country.

Turkish drones started operating in northern Syria as part of the agreement. The military officials from the two NATO allies also established a joint operation center in Akcakale on Aug. 29. Turkey and the U.S. held the third joint flight on Thursday over the planned safe zone.

Turkey and the United States had been at odds for a long time over the northeastern Syria and the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU.