Turkey, US defense chiefs to discuss safe zone plans

KAYSERI, Turkey

Turkish defense minister and the U.S. defense secretary will discuss safe zone plans over a phone call, Turkish defense minister said on Thursday.  

“Unfortunately, we are far behind our expectations regarding the establishment of a safe zone. We are patiently trying every way to solve the problem along our border with our allies,” said Hulusi Akar.  

Akar also said that they will evaluate the situation and exchange views with the U.S. counterpart Mark Esper.  

“As we have already mentioned before, we have completed our preparations in case of any possibility. Our plans are ready,” Akar added.  

Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed on Aug. 7 to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return to their homeland.  

Turkish leaders have said the U.S. is not doing enough to establish the zone, which could house some 2-3 million Syrians who fled the Syrian civil war since 2011.  

Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. Ankara has so far spent $40 billion for the refugees, according to official figures.  

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