Monday, 9 September, 2019 – 08:30 – Asharq al Awsat – Turkish and US military vehicles seen during a joint patrol in the East Euphrates region, Syria, Reuters
Tal Abyad – Kamal Sheikhou
Top Kurdish official Badran Jia Kurd warned in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkey’s motives for resettling Syrian refugees in eastern Euphrates are neither humanitarian nor contributing to the resolution of their cause.“Settling refugees in areas other than their own will not solve the crisis but will create other social and political crises,” he warned against Ankara’s plans.
Another People’s Protection Units Kurdish official confirmed that Turkish-US joint patrols in east of the Euphrates were in coordination with the International coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
SDF units had withdrawn from the area and handed it over to US-allied local councils. Another Kurdish official warned that the refugee-filed safe zones can be exploited as a new “Arab belt” in the Kurdish-run area.
“Patrolling was conducted in full coordination between Turkey and the international coalition and our forces,” SDF Spokesman Mustapha Bali told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Coalition-trained border protection forces, in coordination with local military councils, are filling the void after our military units have withdrawn,” he said, adding that the implementation of the “security agreement will bring stability to the region and will also reflect positively on the battle against remnants of ISIS.”
Armed Turkish military vehicles have crossed into northeast Syria to begin joint patrols with the US Army as part of a planned so-called “safe zone” along the border.
The joint ground patrols were launched as part of the first phase of the “safe zone” plan agreed between the two countries last month. The US-Turkey deal for the zone is intended to manage tensions between Ankara and US-backed Kurdish-led forces, who mainly control the region east of the Euphrates River and are branded by Ankara brands as “terrorists”.
“SDF units dismantled checkpoints and military points of a defensive nature, and handed them over to the military councils and local fighters there,” Bali noted, pointing out that the Turkish forces and the US-led coalition forces will guard borders but will be stationed inside Turkey with the operations center established there.
Considering the agreement a “security mechanism” and not a “Safe Zone,” Bali said it is meant to quell Ankara’s alleged national security fears.