Turkey mulling military operation in northeastern Syria: report

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Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (L) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkey’s top military brass and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held a security meeting on Thursday and discussed a potential military operation in northeastern Syria, immediately after three days of talks with a US delegation over setting up a safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The Anadolu news agency reported that the meeting took place under the leadership of Minister Akar and with the participation of Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler as well as commanders of the land, naval and air forces.

It said the meeting was focused on Turkish-US talks on the safe zone and Turkey’s potential unilateral military operation in the eastern Euphrates region in a bid to end the presence of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) along the border.

James Jeffrey, the US special envoy for Syria, had meetings with Minister Akar, Presidential Chief Foreign Policy Advisor İbrahim Kalın and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal earlier this week. The talks concentrated on the details of the safe zone, an idea that was put back on the agenda by President Donald Trump in mid-January 2019.

The fresh ideas on the modalities of the safe zone tabled by Jeffrey did not satisfy Turkey.

“We have conveyed our views and proposals to them. We are awaiting an immediate reply,” Akar was quoted as saying by Anadolu on Thursday.

“We have once again underlined that we have no tolerance for any delay and that we’ll take action when necessary.”

Turkey and US differ about the size of the safe zone and by whom it will be controlled. Turkey says it should control the area, while the US seeks a limited and temporary presence of Turkish troops within the enclave.

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