Turkey eyes land troops in safe zone in Syria
Turkish land troops are expected to enter east of Euphrates in Syria soon, and their presence will be beneficial to closely observe the situation in the region, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“Right now, our drones and unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs] have entered the region along with our helicopters. The fortifications near our borders are being destroyed. We expect our land troops to enter the region very soon,” Erdoğan said on Aug. 26.
The president’s remarks came during a speech at an event in Malazgirt district in the southeastern province of Muş, commemorating the 1071 Battle of Malazgirt. The battle marks a milestone in Turkish history as it is regarded as the Turks’ official entry into Anatolian lands.
“As we cross our borders with our aerial and land forces, we will have the chance to closely observe the situation and determine the future of the process,” Erdoğan said.
All of these efforts result from Turkey’s determination to clear its borders from terrorist elements, according to Erdoğan. “I hope no one will attempt to test our determination to clear our Syrian border from terrorists,” he said.
Regarding the ongoing preparations for the planned safe zone with the United States, the president said there is progress.
“We are gradually making headway in our efforts to establish a safe zone along the line from the east of Euphrates in Syria to our Iraqi border. The crisscrossing accounts and insidious traps in the region have never withheld us from our track and never will,” he said.
“Our Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, gendarmerie and security forces are all proceeding in this way. We are finding a solution for the issue in the east of Euphrates, in accord with our country’s and nation’s sensibilities, like in many issues some circles regard as unsolvable.”
Turkey’s priority is to solve the issues with diplomacy, dialogue, rapprochement and cooperation, Erdoğan underlined. “This will be beneficial for everybody.”
“But if we were to be forced towards a path under coercion, if we are faced with attempts to stall, we will carry our own plans into effect,” Erdoğan said. “All preparations have been finalized.”
Erdoğan also conveyed his recent telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, saying they talked about the current situation in Idlib.
“There are troubles arising from the [Bashar al-Assad] regime’s violations in Idlib. We closely talked about this with [Putin]. We will hopefully eliminate these problems as soon as possible,” he said.
The president also added that he is travelling to Russia on Aug. 27 to hold meetings regarding the latest developments.
Regarding the ongoing counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq, Erdoğan said the region will soon become permanently secure.
“We are taking really important steps in Iraq. We are making regions permanently secure, which has been used as a center for attacks towards our country for the last 35 years,” he said.
“The operations we have been launching in cooperation with the Iraqi central government [and] the administration in the north and Iran will yield positive results for everyone,” he added.
Turkey, US work for joint patrols in Syria safe zone
In the meantime, Turkey and the U.S. continue work for joint patrols in the safe zone in Syria’s northeastern provinces, a senior Turkish official has said.
Speaking to reporters in Erzincan, an eastern Anatolian province, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar recalled that a joint coordination center in Akçakale province of Şanlıurfa, on the Syrian border, has begun its functions under the leadership of one Turkish and one American general.
“Our works to set up a safe zone, a peace corridor and to clear the region of terrorists continue in an intensified way,” Akar said, recalling that the first reconnaissance flight has taken place by a American chopper and a new one will be carried out by a Turkish helicopter soon.
“Afterwards, joint patrols by Turkish and American troops will begin. Work continues to this end, and it will take place very soon,” he said.
Two generals demand retirement
On a question about the retirement of some four-star generals from the army in reaction to the latest promotions, Akar said applying for retirement is a natural right of all the military personnel.
“Our friends may demand retirement following the completion of their service or during their service upon their will. It’s natural. Until now, there are retirement petitions from two of our friends. We have approved their applications,” Akar told reporters.