Disagreement over depth of Syria safe zone lingers between Turkish, US officials: report

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Armoured vehicles and soldiers of Turkish Armed Forces start to patrol between northern Syrian city of Manbij and Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield area on June 18, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Turkish and US military officials are still in disagreement about the depth of a Syrian safe zone as Ankara insists on covering 40 kilometers starting from the border and the US wants to keep it closer to 15 kilometers, the Demirören news agency (DHA) reported on Wednesday.

On Monday a US delegation arrived in Turkey’s southern province of Şanlıurfa to start work on the establishment of a joint operations center to coordinate the planned safe zone in neighboring Syria.

The DHA report indicated that officials from the two NATO allies started negotiations on the safe zone, while Turkey’s Defense Ministry announced that Turkish drones had started observation flights over the territory.

Ankara is planning to establish at least 10 observation posts east of the Euphrates River.

If the talks over safe a zone do not result in an agreement, Turkey still has the option of a military offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the region.

Turkey, which hosts nearly 3.6 million Syrians who fled their country after 2011, sees the safe zone an opportunity to send a portion of the Syrian refugees back home.

Washington, on the other hand, allied with the Kurdish YPG in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and intends to keep the Kurds safe from a Turkish incursion.

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