Sep 04 2019

Syrian Kurds choosing bases to remove from safe zone - spokesman

U.S.-allied, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces patrolled along the Turkish border on Tuesday to select fortifications to be removed as part of the planned U.S.-Turkey safe zone in northeast Syria, a spokesman for the group said on Twitter. 

“Today, SDF and (anti-Islamic State) @coalition forces conducted a reconnaissance patrol near Tal Abyad to identify additional fortifications for removal in the security mechanism,” said SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali. 

Last week, the SDF said it had begun withdrawing fighters from the border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn as part of the safe zone plan, which Turkey sees as necessary to ensure security along its border. 

Turkey has been pressing for a safe zone to ensure security on its border running east of the Euphrates River toward the Iraqi border. Turkey wants to control the zone and clear Kurdish militia from the border area, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan just last week again threatened to launch a military operation if the zone is not established.

Turkey sees the SDF, the backbone of the U.S.-led fight against ISIS, as terrorists aligned with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.