Turkey, U.S. discuss accelerating efforts for northern Syria safe zone

Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın and the newly appointed U.S. National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien discussed accelerating joint efforts for establishing a safe zone in northern Syria over the phone, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Friday. 

The top officials highlighted the expectations on accelerating the establishment of safe zone in accordance with a deal agreed by Turkey and the United States on Aug. 7, Anadolu said.

While Turkish and U.S. troops conducted their third joint ground patrol in the planned safe zone area on Friday, the two countries have not reached an agreement on the size and the composition of the safe zone yet.

Turkey demands a 30-kilometre deep safe zone which Ankara sees essential for its national security concerns and the safe return of Syrians in Turkey to their homeland

Anadolu Agency said, in his phone conversation with O’Brien, Kalın had reiterated Turkey’s calls to the United States to end support to Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, which Ankara says is an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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