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Feb 03 2019

Turkey and U.S. settle over buffer zone in northern Syria- Asharq Al-Awsat

Turkey and the United States have agreed on a number of terms for establishing a buffer zone in northern Syria, London based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Sunday.

The idea of a safe zone was brought to the agenda by U.S. President Donald Trump in a tweet on Jan. 13, 2018 after the announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. 

"The US-Turkish consensus would see to label the sought buffer zone under the title of 'safeguarding Turkish national security' and would stretch some 20 and 32 kilometres into Syria, but away from of US military outposts," the daily said.

Turkey has long been frustrated by the U.S. support to Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the alliance fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS), since Turkey accuses them of being terrorists allied with Kurdistan Workers' Party that has waged a decades-long insurgency in the country.

Disarmament of the YPG will also take place in compliance with the buffer zone arrangement between two NATO allies, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.

"Ankara wants to drive 7,000 Kurdish YPG units the region, replacing them with Peshmerga fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan and Arabs with the support of Ahmad Jarba, head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces," the daily said.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq and northern Syria, enjoys good relations with Turkey. 

The U.S. withdrawal is contingent on Turkey agreeing not to attack the YPG forces, according to U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton's statement on Jan. 7. Trump on Jan. 14 warned the United States would “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds” in the wake of Turkey's threats to attack east of Euphrates river amid U.S. withdrawal notice.

"Outstanding issues such as a fly ban on Turkish air forces, offsetting a Turkish offensive and the protection of local Kurdish populations will be decided on in upcoming talks with the US-Turkish committee in Washington, scheduled for Tuesday, before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu meet on the sidelines of the International anti-ISIS Coalition," Asharq Al-Awsat said.