Ankara sees deal with U.S. as step toward wider purge of Kurdish militia – Bloomberg

Ankara’s deal with Washington to carve out a narrow security zone in northern Syria is merely a step in purging Kurdish fighters from a much larger section of the border region, Bloomberg reported, citing Turkish officials. 

Following months of dispute, Turkey and the United States agreed earlier this month to jointly patrol an area stretching 125 kilometres (78 miles) between the Syrian towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, and up to 15 kilometers deep.

Ankara has been pressing to establish the zone within Syria, seeking the removal of the U.S. backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the area and the destruction of their tunnels and fortifications. Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting in Turkey for over 30 years.

The presence of U.S. troops originally stationed in the region to aid the YPG in their joint fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) is complicating Turkey’s desire to force the Kurdish militia away from its frontier, Bloomberg said. 

While this month’s agreement foresees the immediate withdrawal of YPG fighters from the buffer zone, the article said, Ankara is also looking to see that the YPG’s political wing, the PYD, leaves the region as well.

The United States and Turkey have conducted the first reconnaissance flight as part of the agreement and joint military patrols are expected to start within a month.

Ankara’s demands to be able to deploy as many troops as it considers necessary to enforce security were rebuffed, Turkish officials told Bloomberg with Washington agreeing only to the deployment of two Turkish soldiers for every American soldier.