First U.S. delegation arrives in Turkey for northern Syria safe zone

Turkey’s National Defence Ministry announced on Monday that  the first U.S. delegation arrived in the south-eastern border province of Şanlıurfa to start efforts for a joint operations centre for a safe zone to be established along the Syrian border.

“A six-person U.S. delegation has arrived in Şanlıurfa to start working on preliminary efforts to set up a Joint Operations Centre. The Operations Centre is expected to become active in the coming days,” said the Ministry.

A 90-person U.S. military unit has also arrived in the south-eastern province, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported on Monday.

Following months of negotiations, Turkey and the United States last week agreed to establish a joint operations centre to address Turkey’s security concerns in northern Syria and create a safe zone in the region.

Turkey sees the enclaves in north-east Syria controlled by predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its armed wing, the People Protection Units (YPG), as threat to its national security over those groups ties to outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The YPG forms the backbone of U.S.-led coalition forces fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.