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US and Turkey begin Syria ‘security zone’ talks in Ankara

Turkey and the U.S. began talks on Tuesday, July 23 to establish a “security zone” in northern Syria aimed at creating a buffer between Kurdish fighters and the Turkish border.

“Military officials from the two countries began, today in Ankara, to work together on a security zone that will be put in place in a coordinated manner in the north of Syria,” the Turkish ministry of defense said.

It said further talks were due in the coming days.

The idea of a security zone was first mooted by U.S. President Donald Trump in January, in a call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a moment when Turkey was threatening to launch an offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria.

The U.S. has provided extensive support to the predominately-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria, who have shouldered the brunt of fighting against the Islamic State group as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

In January, the SDF said it would support the creation of an internationally guaranteed “safe zone” in northeastern Syria to protect it “from the danger of genocide” and “foreign intervention.”

In recent days, Turkey has renewed threats to attack the YPG, which it considers a terrorist organization inextricably tied to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has fought an insurgency in the country since the 1980s.

Turkey has launched two previous offenses into Syria against ISIS and the YPG, in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies took control of Efrin in northern Syria last spring after a months-long campaign. Syrian Kurdish officials have vowed to retake Efrin, which is part of their project in North and East Syria, in an area Kurds refer to as Rojava, meaning ‘west.’

New Syrian military councils are the SDF’s latest push for decentralization

With reporting from AFP

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