Turkey, U.S. hold 3rd land patrol in safe zone area in Syria

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-04 18:31:55|Editor: xuxin
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ANKARA, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. and Turkish troops held the third joint land patrol on Friday in the planned safe zone in northern Syria, Turkey's Defense Ministry said.

"Turkish Armed Forces and the U.S. personnel started the third unified land patrol in the east of Telabyad within the scope of the safe zone facility in eastern Syria with the participation of land vehicles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)," the ministry said on its Twitter account.

The military activity came one day after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper held a phone conversation and discussed the efforts for the establishment of the proposed safe zone.

According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, Akar recalled that Turkey wants a 30-km deep safe zone to be set up in the east of the Euphrates River in Syria. If there is stalling or a delay in the process, the joint efforts will be ended, Akar said.

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 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 United States held several joint helicopter flights on Monday over the planned safe zone. Turkey also flies F-16 fighters jets in the area.