Turkish and U.S. defence secretaries praise safe zone progress

U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper and his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Wednesday praised the work of Turkish and U.S. teams setting up a joint operations centre in support of a planned safe zone in northeast Syria, according to a Defence Department readout. 

Earlier this month, the United States and Turkey agreed to set up a safe zone in Syria, to be jointly managed from an operations centre in Turkey’s southeast Şanlıurfa province, which is to begin operations this week. 

“The U.S. and Turkey will execute the plan in designated phases and in a coordinated and combined manner at all times,” said the readout after the two officials spoke on the phone. “While there are still technical details to be worked through, Secretary Esper and Minister Akar confirmed their intent to take immediate, coordinated steps to implement the framework as demonstrated by standing up the Joint Coordination Center in Turkey.”

The secretaries agreed that the safe zone is a viable way to secure and stabilise the border and maintain the campaign to defeat the Islamic State.  

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