US, Turkish defense chiefs discuss deal on Syria

Turkish defense minister on Friday spoke over the phone with his U.S. counterpart to discuss the implementation of the agreement on proposed safe zone in northern Syria, said Turkey’s Defense Ministry.

According to a ministry statement, Hulusi Akar and his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper emphasized the aim is to successfully establish the safe zone, agreed on by Turkey and the U.S., within the framework of the territorial integrity of Syria

The statement said Turkey is closely monitoring the withdrawal of the YPG/PKK terrorists from the proposed safe zone, collection of heavy weapons from the terrorists and disablement of their fortifications, as specified in the agreement.

Stressing that Turkey would continue to fight Daesh terror group with determination, the statement said Ankara expects from the U.S. to fulfill the commitments.

It was also stressed that the right to self-defense would be exercised in case of any harassment or hostile movement towards the Turkish Armed Forces.

On Thursday, Turkey and the U.S. came to an agreement to pause Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

Turkey agreed to pause its Operation Peace Spring for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK forces from the planned safe zone.

Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also agreed on Turkey having 20 miles (32 kilometers) of safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria.

On Oct. 9, Turkey had launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG/PKK.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

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