Ankara closely monitoring safe zone implementation, has alternative plans ready

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ANKARA
Published 04.09.2019 00:12

Ankara is carefully observing the execution of promises by Washington regarding the safe zone plan, given the U.S.' previous failure to appease Turkey's security concerns in other parts of Syria. If the U.S. stalls on the plans as they did in Manbij, Turkey has its own alternative plans ready to implement.

Speaking about the implementation of the safe zone yesterday in İzmir province, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said: "We have reached some agreements [with the U.S.] and created a schedule. Our commanders our meticulously monitoring the process. We have not forget our experiences regarding promises in Manbij and Raqqa."

In June 2018, Turkey and the U.S. agreed on a road map foreseeing the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij along with joint Turkish-American patrols, however, no action was taken regarding the implementation of the decided three-month timetable. It was in May 2017 that the U.S. had began distributing arms and equipment to the YPG for an offensive in the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa, not paying regard to Ankara's offers to carry out a joint offensive in the province.

Speaking on the establishment of a joint operation center in the border district of Akçakale to facilitate the safe zone process and to monitor the retrieval of weapons given to the PKK-affiliated YPG by the U.S., Akar said Turkey has a plan B and a plan C ready to apply in case Washington backtracks on its promises.

Thousands of truckloads of weapons were delivered by Washington to the YPG. Despite the U.S. promising to retrieve weapons provided to the YPG earlier, later remarks from the White House changed and began to suggest that they could not retrieve all the weapons, which, according to Ankara, may eventually be transferred to the PKK and be used in its terror campaign against Turkey. The campaign has claimed nearly 40,000 lives.

Turkey had long signaled a possible offensive in areas held by the YPG east of the Euphrates. However, last December the government decided to postpone the operation after U.S. President Donald Trump decided that Washington would withdraw its troops from Syria. The withdrawal decision was quickly interpreted as an intention by the U.S. to halt support for the YPG, which Turkey sees as a terrorist organization. Yet, in the face of mounting hints that the country will maintain its support of the terrorist organization and contradictory statements from officials on the pullout process, officials from Ankara and Washington have been discussing setting up a 32-kilometer-deep safe zone to ease Turkey's security concerns.

While the process for the safe zone has been launched, the U.S. still continues its logistical and training support to the YPG. In northeastern Hasakah province, 700 terrorists trained by U.S. forces have joined YPG ranks.

Anadolu Agency (AA) reported that U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) provides training to YPG militants on different aspects including internal security and handmade explosives.

Washington has provided support to the YPG for some time now, under the pretext of fighting Daesh.

Russia supports solutions respecting Syria's territorial integrityWithin the context of ongoing developments and instability in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia recognizes solutions respecting Syria's territorial integrity and rights of Arab tribes in the region. "We will support only those solutions that fully respect Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he stressed.

Upon the attacks of the U.S. on northwestern Syria that left at least 40 dead, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Moscow to hold talks about the latest actions on Monday. Both condemned U.S. policies which are bringing about rising tensions and chaos east of the Euphrates River.

Noting that Russia is keeping a close eye on the talks between the U.S. and Turkey on the safe zone in northeastern Syria, Lavrov said that Ankara and Moscow are in touch regarding the process.

"We are keeping a close eye on the talks between the United States and Turkey on security at the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who visited Russia last week and held talks with President Vladimir Putin, informed us in detail about these talks, about the problems that so far defy resolution," he said.

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