Turkey seeks evidence on YPG withdrawal from safe zone

Hurriyet - Turkish officials said they will need to independently confirm reports that the YPG has withdrawn from a safe zone in northwest Syria and reiterated their commitment to implement a roadmap for establishing the terror-free corridor with the United States.

“There is information yet to be confirmed that the YPG terrorists are withdrawing and some of their trenches have been destroyed. We want to see all this for ourselves,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told journalists on Aug 30.

Turkish and U.S. officials have agreed to set up the safe zone in Syria along Turkey’s southern border to address security threats posed by the YPG. A joint coordination center was formed in Akçakale province of Şanlıurfa in mid-August, and Turkish and American choppers have conducted several reconnaissance missions inside the zone, Akar said during his briefing.

The two sides are still working on the technical modalities of the safe zone, particularly on the size of the area and who will be responsible for protecting it.

“We are seriously following all the agreements we made and the timeline we have agreed on. We are exerting efforts for the full implementation of the timeline,” Akar stressed.

The minister said Turkey has not forgotten that the U.S. has not fulfilled its promises on the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij and Raqqa and therefore will continue to impose pressure to fully implement the safe zone deal.

“We have no tolerance for any delay. We want be sure that the region is cleared of terrorists and the terror corridor is destroyed,” Akar said.

US confirms reconnaissance flights

The United States European Command issued a statement Aug. 30 confirming two reconnaissance flights along the border.

“Yesterday, U.S. and Turkish leaders conducted their second reconnaissance flight across the Turkey and Syria border as a part of the establishment of the security mechanism in northeast Syria. This is the second flight within a week, following the first which took place on Aug. 24, 2019,” the statement said.

“This flight follows the establishment of the combined joint operations center (CJOC) last week and demonstrates continued commitment to address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns on their southern border, maintains security in northeast Syria so ISIS cannot reemerge, and allows the coalition and our partners to remain focused on achieving the enduring defeat of ISIS,” it added.