Turkey, US to establish patrol bases in Syria safe zone: Defense minister
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has conveyed Turkey’s intention to establish patrol bases with the United States in northeastern Syria in a bid to efficiently conduct ground patrol missions in the safe zone in the same way the Turkish Armed Forces has done in the fight against the PKK in northern Iraq.
“We will establish patrol bases in the east of [River] the Euphrates. This would be a big achievement if we could set up these bases and the terrorists would be withdrawn from there,” Akar told daily Türkiye in an interview on Sept 19.
“They will be the joint bases of Turkey and the U.S. We want them to be permanent. Their numbers will be decided depending on the need,” Akar said, informing that an agreement on the move with the U.S. was provided.
The minister recalled that Turkey had set up permanent patrol bases in northern Iraq in the fight against the PKK and the ones in northeastern Syria would be similar to those.
“Are we going to stop afterwards? No, we won’t. Our objective is to set up a 30 to 40-kilometer deep safe zone along the borderline,” he said.
The minister’s remarks came just a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the U.S. that it will have to act alone in northeastern Syria should talks for the safe zone would not be concluded in two weeks.
Turkey and the U.S. announced on Aug. 7 that they agreed on setting up a safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border. Talks since then have not produced the modalities on the depth and on the scope of the safe zone although the two militaries have carried out one combined ground patrol mission and several reconnaissance flights.
Akar has also informed about improvement in the control and coordination of the air space over the safe zone and that the process is going on although the U.S. is hesitant.
“What we have done [for the safe zone] is there. They [the U.S.] are doing unwillingly. The process is slow but moving forward. Ground patrolling will continue phase by phase and in way to cover the entire 440 kilometer-long border strip,” Akar said