Washington, Ankara Agree Terms of Security Zone Set up in North Syria

Published February 3rd, 2019 - 08:46 GMT
Turkey’s Erdogan okays Syria ‘security zone’ proposed by Trump  (Twitter)
Turkey’s Erdogan okays Syria ‘security zone’ proposed by Trump (Twitter)

Washington and Ankara have settled on a number of terms for the establishment of a northeastern Syria security zone while the United States continues operating Al-Tanf base, located 24 km west from the al-Tanf border crossing between Syria and Iraq, well-informed sources said.

The US-Turkish consensus would see to label the sought buffer zone under the title of “safeguarding Turkish national security” and would stretch some 20 and 32 kilometers into Syria, but away from of US military outposts. Disarmament of the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) will also take place according to the security zone arrangement.

Ankara wants to drive 7,000 Kurdish YPG units the region, replacing them with Peshmerga fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan and Arabs with the support of Ahmad Jarba, head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

 

Outstanding issues such as a fly ban on Turkish air forces, offsetting a Turkish offensive and the protection of local Kurdish populations will be decided on in upcoming talks with the US-Turkish committee in Washington, scheduled for Tuesday, before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu meet on the sidelines of the International anti-ISIS Coalition.

Washington had asked European partners to continue supporting the region, which was discussed by US envoy James Jeffrey, in Paris two days ago, but Washington was, in turn, asked to clarify its final decision.

President Donald Trump, last December announced he would be withdrawing some 2,000 American troops in Syria. An announcement that was followed by a series of phone discussions with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

There are still open debates as to what role the US will play in the proposed "security zone,” leaving Washington and its European allies in serious discussions.

The decision to pull out has stunned the allies who just boosted military engagement last spring, under US requests on better "burden sharing". A number of countries, including France, deployed comprehensive missions to Syria’s east of the Euphrates accordingly.

More important, there is the question of trans-Euphrates Syria in the northeast having consolidated into an autonomous polity known as Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan), or alternatively, the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), a coalition comprising of Sunni Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Christian Assyrians.

Protecting the DFNS, spearheaded by YPG fighters who carried most of the war against ISIS on the ground from 2015-on, and reconquered most populated areas in the former ISIS-dominated territory, is crucial for Washington’s European allies.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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