- NATO members agreed to create a safe area in northern Syria, on Turkey's southern border, and to free the area of Syrian fighters in the YPG.
- Turkey fears a repeat of the Manbij's Deal with the United States last year.
- Erdogan and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, are due to discuss the issue later this month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country cannot cope with a new wave of migrants from northern Syria. He said Turkey and the United States needed to establish a “safe area” in northern Syria as soon as possible.
NATO members agreed to create a safe area in northern Syria, on Turkey’s southern border, and to free the area of Syrian fighters in the YPG. Turkish and American troops began their first joint ground military patrols in the region on Sunday. However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said US efforts to create the buffer zone so far were “cosmetic,” and accused Washington of trying to “buy time.”
What is the goal of the Safe Zone?
The Safe Zone aims to create a buffer zone between Turkey and YPG-controlled areas in Syria. Washington sees the YPG as a key ally against Islamic State militants, while Ankara considers them as “terrorists,” and part of the Kurdish rebels inside Turkey.
The United States was warned against any delay in removing the YPG positions from the border area, citing previous warnings that Ankara was ready to launch unilateral actions against the group. Turkey fears a repeat of Manbij’s deal with the United States last year. The two countries agreed on a roadmap in May 2018 to remove the YPG fighters from Manbij in northern Syria, but Turkey says the withdrawal did not take place, as agreed.
Military officials at the US Central Command and the European Command are scheduled to meet with their Turkish counterparts on Tuesday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Twitter. Military officials are expected to discuss “future support” for the Joint Turkish-US Central Operations and other activities.
Hurriyet Daily News quoted Turkish officials, saying Ankara was seeking to create a 440-kilometer buffer zone on the border with Syria and was unhappy with covering only 120 kilometers in the first phase. The newspaper said Sunday’s patrols were “nothing more than a formality” on the part of the Americans, and Turkish soldiers want to go deeper than the five kilometers they covered in Syria. Erdogan and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, are due to discuss the issue later this month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Deportation of Syrians from Turkey
Turkey has extended the deadline for thousands of unregistered Syrian refugees in Istanbul to leave the city until October 30th or face forcible deportation, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Tuesday. According to reports about 3.6 million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey since the start of the war in 2011. About half a million Syrians are officially registered in Istanbul, but it is estimated that the total number of Syrian arrivals is twice that, and most of them are coming from the states where they registered on arrival in Turkish territory.
Opinion polls in Turkey show low sympathy among Turkish society for Syrian refugees, from 70 percent to 40 percent. After eight years of welcoming Syrians, Turkey’s open doors seem to be closing and sympathy is running out.