Turkish-US operation center on Syria border fully operational: minister

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. PHOTO: AFP

A joint Turkish-US operation center to establish and manage a safe zone in northeast Syria is fully operational, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted as saying, Reuters reported.

Turkey and the United States agreed to set up the joint operations center for the proposed zone along Syria’s northeastern border but gave few details, such as the size of the zone or the command structure of the forces that would operate there.

“The joint operation center has started working at full capacity. One US general and one Turkish general command the center,” Akar said, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

On Saturday a US and a Turkish general flew the first joint reconnaissance mission over northeast Syria, Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Robertson said the reconnaissance flight and the joint coordination center, established earlier this week, “demonstrates commitment to address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns on their southern border,” and will help ensure “security in northeast Syria so [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)] cannot reemerge.”

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for northeastern Syria, where the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia formed the main part of a US-backed force fighting ISIL. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group.

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