Aug 08 2019

Syria calls Turkish-U.S. safe zone deal a blatant attack on its sovereignty

The Syrian government said on Thursday that an agreement between Turkey and the United States over the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria represented a “blatant attack” on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial unity and a “dangerous escalation”, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Following months of negotiations, Turkey and the United States announced on Wednesday that they would establish a joint operation centre in Turkey to coordinate efforts to establish the safe zone, without providing information on the borders of the planned zone. 

The deal showed “American-Turkish partnership in the aggression against Syria”, Syrian state news agency SANA cited a foreign ministry source as saying. 

The U.S.-Turkish “aggression” represented “a dangerous escalation and a threat to peace and stability in the area”, Reuters quoted the source as saying.

Turkey last week said that it would launch a military operation against Kurdish-controlled territories in northeast Syria, if the talks with the United States failed. Turkey sees the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group which has been fighting inside Turkey for more than three decades.

Washington recognises the PKK as a terrorist organisation, while the YPG forms the backbone of the U.S.-led coalition forces fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. 

After U.S. President Donald Trump last year announced plans to withdraw American troops in Syria, the Kurdish-led administration in northeast Syria started talks with Damascus seeking protection against a Turkish assault. Washington later altered plans and said it would only withdraw half of its 2,000 troops in the country.