Erdoğan cites U.S.-Turkey disagreement over safe zone as joint patrols begin in Syria

Ankara and Washington have constantly disagreed over establishing the planned “safe zone,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday, just hours after joint Turkey-U.S. patrols began in northern Syria. 

“We are negotiating with the United States for the safe zone, however, we see at every step that what we want and what they have in mind is not the same thing,” independent news site T24 quoted Erdoğan as saying.

“It seems that our ally is looking for a safe zone for the terrorist organisation, not for us. We reject such understanding,” the Turkish president added. 

Turkey and the United States earlier on Sunday began joint patrols in a planned safe zone in northern Syria under a roadmap that was agreed on last month. 

Turkey aims to send some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it hosts to the planned zone, which will also address Ankara's security concerns about a Kurdish forces that control the territory.

The safe zone region is mostly controlled by U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for over 30 years.