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US military official visits Turkey for intervention in Syria


Istanbul: The deputy commander of the US European Command was set to arrive in Turkey to plan coordination with regards to the Turkish intervention in northeastern Syria.

Turkey's Defence Ministry published a note on Thursday informing of Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty's visit to the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, near the Turkish-Syrian border.

The statement said both sides will discuss the mechanism to create a "safe zone" in the north of Syria, which includes establishing a "joint operations centre" in Sanliurfa.

In a previous note published last week, the Turkish Ministry explained that both sides agreed on the so-called safe zone, which "shall become a peace corridor".

The agreement announced on August 7 was aimed to adopt some "initial measures to address Turkey's security concerns", according to the note.

The statement added that "any additional measures shall be taken for our displaced Syrian brothers (refugees) to return to their country".

Turkey intents to demarcate a military strip in the northeast of Syria along the common border between the two countries to the east of the Euphrates River.

That region is home to a predominantly Kurdish population and is dominated by People's Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militias.

Turkey considers YPG a terrorist organization because of its links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has active Kurdish militias in Turkey.

For its part, Washington backs YPG considering it an ally in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization, denying Ankara's requests during the last two years to have a green light to intervene militarily in the region. 

Although an agreement has been announced, no details have been revealed, including the width of the safe zone which remains unknown.

Turkey had asked to control a 32-kilometre-wide strip, something that would be unacceptable to YPG because it would put almost all of the Kurdish-inhabited areas under Turkish rule.

The Turkish Defence Ministry announced on Wednesday that it began to fly drones in the area without providing more details or announcing the start date of those safe-zone measures.

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