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Erdogan Discusses with Trump Setting up Safe Zone in Syria

Erdogan Discusses with Trump Setting up Safe Zone in Syria

Tuesday, 15 January, 2019 - 19:00
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed Tuesday that he had discussed with his US counterpart Donald Trump the establishment of a safe zone inside Syria along the length of their border.

The two leaders had held a telephone call on Monday, which Erdogan described as positive.

Trump, who announced he was pulling US troops out of northeast Syria last month, suggested in a tweet on Sunday creating safe zone, without elaborating.

“The safe zone issue, including a safe zone along Turkey’s borders that will be formed by us - an issue that I have brought up since the Obama era - was reiterated by him as 20 miles,” Erdogan told members of his AK Party in parliament.

He later told reporters that the zone could be extended beyond 20 miles, but did not say by how far.

Turkey has promised to take over the fight against ISIS in Syria following the US withdrawal. However, bitter differences between Washington and Ankara over the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had soured talks between the two NATO partners.

The YPG has been a main US ally in the fight against ISIS, but Turkey views it as a terrorist organization and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

Monday’s call between the two leaders came after Trump threatened Turkey with economic devastation if Turkish forces attacked the YPG militia.

Erdogan said he was saddened by Trump’s tweet but that the phone call later in the day was positive.

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