Tuesday 15 January 2019 | 9:27 AM Damascus Local Time
  • Erdogan, Trump Consider Setting Up 'Security Zone' In Syria

    Erdogan,

    Agencies (Qasioun) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, have discussed the situation in northern Syria over the phone amid rising tensions over the fate of Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria.

     

    The conversation on Monday came a day after Trump threatened on Twitter that he would "devastate" Turkey's economy if its forces attacked the US-backed Kurdish fighters, who helped Washington in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

     

    The war of words between the two NATO allies is the latest consequence of Trump's surprising decision last month to withdraw US troops from northern Syria, potentially leaving the Kurdish militia under threat as Ankara weighs a new offensive there.

     

    In a statement, the Turkish presidency said Erdogan told Trump he had no problem with Kurds in Syria and that Ankara is only seeking to fight armed groups in the war-ravaged country which threaten its national security.

     

    The two leaders also "discussed the idea of creating a security zone cleared of terrorism in the north of the country", the statement added.

     

    Trump confirmed this in a tweet later, but referred to the proposed area as a "safe zone".

     

    He did not give any details about the safe zone proposal, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington wanted to provide security for those who have fought ISIL and to prevent any attack on Turkey from Syria.

     

    Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, said in a statement: "The president expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey's security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the United States that Turkey does not mistreat the Kurds and other Syrian Democratic Forces with whom we have fought to defeat ISIS."

     

    According to the White House, Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford is set to meet his Turkish counterpart, Yasar Guler, on Tuesday for further consultations.

     

    Source: Al-Jazeera

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