BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:00 A.M.) – Turkey wants to establish a safe zone in northern Syria that is patrolled by Turkish troops and absent of Kurdish-led militias, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday, as reported by the Anadolu News Agency.
During his separate meetings with U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, U.S. special envoy to Syria James Jeffrey and a group of U.S. senators on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Akar stressed that a safe zone must be established in order to secure Turkey’s borders and eliminate terrorist entities operating in this area.
Specifically, Akar highlighted the large presence of Kurdish-led forces that are allied with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Syria.
“PKK terrorists do not represent our Kurdish brothers. There is no difference between the PKK and the YPG,” Akar told the senior U.S. officials during his meetings.
Akar said Turkey wants a 440-kilometer-long safe zone in the eastern region of the Euphrates River Valley, adding that it should be patrolled by the Turkish military.
“A 440-kilometer-long (273-mile) safe zone in the eastern part of the Euphrates should be cleared of the terrorist YPG group and should be patrolled by the Turkish forces,” he stressed.