situation report

Syria: Turkey, U.S. Hold Joint Ground Patrol in Northern Syrian 'Safe Zone'

2 MINS READSep 9, 2019 | 14:57 GMT

What Happened: Turkey and the United States have concluded their first joint ground patrols along the Syrian-Turkish border to establish a recently agreed "safe zone," the Daily Sabah reported Sept. 8. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the joint patrols were insufficient to address the countries' current disagreements and that Ankara would take unilateral measures to safeguard its interests if the safe zone is not in place by the end of September.

Why It Matters: The difficult negotiations over the zone reflect the broader U.S.-Turkish tensions as Ankara is attempting to increase its influence in the ongoing Syrian civil war and prevent its border region from becoming a stronghold for Kurdish militia forces.

Background: Turkish and U.S. officials agreed Aug. 7 to establish a safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border to limit movement by forces allied to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the region. However, Ankara continues to distrust Washington's intentions as U.S. support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) has continued. As a result, Erdogan could seek greater U.S. security guarantees during the U.N. General Assembly later this month.

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