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Turkey, US agree to jointly establish safe zone in Syria’s north

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Turkey and the United States on Wednesday agreed to jointly establish a safe zone in Syria’s north, a day after fresh Turkish threats for a military offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in the region.

The Turkish Defence Ministry and the U.S. embassy in Ankara said in a joint statement that the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies have agreed to establish a joint operations centre in Turkey to coordinate and manage the establishment of a safe zone.

According to the two countries, the safe zone will become a peace corridor as well as serving as a zone for sending Syrian refugees in Turkey back home.

However, it was not immediately clear how and when the zone would be created.

Turkey has long been demanding the establishment of a safe zone in Syria’s north designed to stem the flow of migrants into Turkey and oust U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters from its border with Syria.

According to state news agency Anadolu, a group of U.S. officials were holding talks since Monday in Ankara on a proposed buffer zone.

Earlier, Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, said Ankara needed the safe zone to be around 40 kilometres deep and that the two countries should disarm and remove U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Syria’s north.

Ankara sees the YPG as terrorists linked to insurgents at home, but for the U.S., the militia had been key in fighting Islamic State.

However, Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, had earlier threatened an incursion very soon in spite talks with the U.S. (dpa/NAN

YI/AIB

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