Minister says US getting closer to Turkey’s view on safe zone in Syria

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

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the United States is getting closer to Turkey’s views on a proposed safe zone in northeast Syria and that its military deployment plans are complete, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Speaking in Ankara, Akar also said that Turkey has told the United States it would prefer to act together.

“Our plans, preparations, the deployment of our units in the field are all complete. But we said we wanted to act together with our friend and ally, the United States,” Akar was quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency as saying.

Turkey has been growing impatient with the United States, which had agreed to create a safe zone inside Syria’s northeastern border with Turkey, set to be cleared of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

Ankara has accused Washington of stalling progress on setting up the safe zone and has demanded it sever its relations with the YPG. The group was Washington’s main ally on the ground in Syria during the battle against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but Turkey designates it as a terrorist organization.

On Wednesday the third day of Turkish-US talks on the safe zone, Akar described them as “positive and rather constructive” and that he expected them to finish within hours.

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