Turkish and U.S. troops carried out their initially joint ground patrol in northeastern Syria Sunday as component of a planned so-named “secure zone” that Ankara has been pressing for in the volatile area.
Turkey hopes the buffer zone, which it says should really be at least 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep, will retain Syrian Kurdish fighters, regarded a threat by Turkey but U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group, away from its border.
Linked Press journalists in the town of Tal Abyad saw about a dozen Turkish armored autos with the country’s red flag standing along the border soon after crossing into Syria, and American autos about a mile away waiting. The two sides then came with each other in a joint patrol with American autos major the convoy.
At least two helicopters hovered overhead. The Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed the start off of the joint patrols and mentioned unmanned aerial autos had been also getting utilised.
Washington has in the final years often discovered itself attempting to forestall violence in between its NATO ally Turkey and the Kurdish fighters it partnered with along the border to clear of IS militants.
An initial agreement in between Washington and Ankara final month averted threats of a Turkish attack. But facts of the deal are nonetheless getting worked out in separate talks with Ankara and the Kurdish-led forces in Syria recognized as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.
Turkey, which has carried out a number of incursions into Syria in the course of the country’s civil war in an work to curb the expanding influence of the Kurdish forces, carried out joint patrols with U.S. troops in the northern town of Manbij final year.
Sunday’s joint patrol is the initially 1 taking spot east of the Euphrates River, exactly where U.S. troops have much more presence, and as component of the secure zone that is getting set up.
Anadolu Agency mentioned six Turkish armored autos crossed into Syria on Sunday from the border town of Akcakale, opposite from Syria’s Tal Abyad, and joined U.S. autos for their initially joint patrol of an location east of the Euphrates river.
AP reporters in Tal Abyad mentioned the patrol was headed to a Kurdish-controlled base to inspect it, apparently to make sure that trenches and sand berms had been removed. U.S. troops had inspected the base on Saturday for the duration of patrols with the SDF for the duration of which some of the berms Turkey had complained about had been removed.
The patrol ended soon after two and a half hours, with 4 stops along the way in villages close to the border to inspect bases.
Helicopters flew low. Regional commuters patiently waited although the convoy blocked site visitors. The patrol then continued driving along dirt tracks as farmers and little ones looked on.
“We do not know what this will do. We will see,” mentioned 1 onlooker.
The Syrian government, which withdrew from the location in the chaos of war soon after the conflict erupted in 2011, condemned the joint patrol Sunday and labeled it “an aggression in each and every sense of the word.”
In a statement issued by the Syrian Foreign Ministry, it mentioned the move was a “blatant violation of international law and the sovereignty” of Syria.
For Turkey, a “secure zone” is vital mainly because it is hoping some of the Syrian refugees it has been hosting for years could be resettled there, despite the fact that it is not clear how that would perform.
On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkey could “open its gates” and permit Syrian refugees in the nation to move toward Western nations if a secure zone is not designed and Turkey is left to shoulder the refugee burden alone. Turkey hosts three.six million refugees from Syria.
Rather than calling it a secure zone, Washington and the Kurdish-led forces have mentioned a “safety mechanism” is taking shape to diffuse tensions in northeastern Syria.