Safe zone in N Syria should be established fast: Defense Minister Akar
The safe zone in northern Syria should be established and finalized as soon as possible as Turkey does not have time to waste, the Turkish defense minister has said, elaborating on Turkey’s expectation from the United States on the talks for the zone.
“We are closely following developments in the east of the [River] Euphrates and our army is ready in all aspects,” Hulusi Akar told reporters on Oct. 1.
“This is not a joke. This should be known and understood by everyone,” he said, implying a unilateral military action to set up a safe zone if talks with the U.S. fail to yield success.
Turkey wants to act in line with the spirit of the NATO alliance and strategic partnership, said Akar, noting that they are trying to take the process in peace.
When asked if there is a deadline for this, Akar said, “We follow actions rather than time”
“Our demand is purely humanitarian, there is a tragedy in Syria. We want people to return to their home in peace and security. This can happen when terrorists are cleared out,” Akar stated.
“We need the terrorists to be taken out there [and] the fortification of [their arms]. We need to see this with patrols, patrol bases. Yes there are some improvements. UAVs, helicopters, F-16s fly, and we do reconnaissance surveillance activities with them. However, we have additional demands, the work needs to accelerate, we need to go to the conclusion, we are wasting time. We shouldn’t waste time. “
Akar also said that shooting down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) near the Syrian border was an “ordinary incident.”
“The Turkish Air Forces strongly defends our airspace,” he said. “The investigation into determining the nationality of the UAV is underway.”
Turkish F-16s on Sunday shot down an UAV of unknown origin near the Syrian border after it violated Turkish airspace multiple times.
Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed on Aug. 7 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 to their homeland.