Turkey, US hold second ground patrol in safe zone area
“The Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] and the U.S. personnel started the second joint land patrol with the participation of land vehicles and UAVs on the Syrian side in the south of Akçakale [district of Turkey], within the scope of setting up safe zone activities in the north of Syria and east of Euphrates,” said the ministry on its Twitter account on Sept.24.
A convoy of four armored Turkish Armed Forces vehicles in the southeastern Şanlıurfa province crossed the border and met with a U.S. military convoy to join the joint land patrol, Anadolu Agency reported. The Turkish and U.S. forces are set to conduct a land patrol in the Syrian town of Tal Abyad.
The planned safe zone is expected to start from Tal Abyad town in the west.
The land patrolling comes one day after the two Turkish F-16 fighters conducted a flight over the Syrian airspace as part of a multinational campaign to fight and eradicate ISIL in the war-torn country.
The flights took place in the planned safe zone area, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity.
U.S. and Turkish troops conducted their joint ground patrol for the zone on Sept. 9.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.
Turkey has long championed the idea of terrorist-free safe zones in Syria. It has stressed ridding the area of the YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK, as well as resettling Syrian migrants currently sheltered in Turkey.
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.