Turkey will have to form the safe zone in northern Syria by itself if it cannot come to an agreement with the U.S., Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told his American counterpart on Monday.
“If Turkey, U.S. don’t find common ground, Ankara will be obliged to create a safe zone on its own,” Akar said.
Akar held a phone call with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, telling him one more time that Turkey expects the U.S. to fully withdraw its support from the PKK terrorist organization’s Syrian offshoot People’s Protection Units (YPG)-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
In a statement, the ministry said Akar congratulated Mark Esper for officially becoming the new U.S. defense secretary.
Regarding the F-35 fighter jet program, Akar noted that Turkey was not just the customer of the project but also the investor and production partner and that the program should continue as planned.
The defense minister also noted that Turkey is the only competent and efficient power to provide control over the planned safe zone in northern Syria.
He said that the safe zone should be created under the criteria that include retrieval of all weapons from the PKK/YPG situated in the safe zone, wiping off the terrorist organization from the safe zone which should be 30 to 40 kilometers in width, destruction of PKK/YPG’s all tunnels, shelters, equipment and ammunition in the area which will be controlled by Turkey and the U.S. in coordination.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria — Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch — to purge the region of terrorist groups, most notably the PKK/YPG, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.