Mar 08 2019

Syrian Kurds propose deployment of multinational border force, reject Turkish safe zone

A Kurdish politician from the Kurdish-led authorities in northern Syria said a multinational force should be deployed at the Turkish border, Reuters reported on Friday.

The Kurdish-led authorities have rejected Ankara’s suggestion of creating a large “safe zone” under Turkish control, and Syrian Kurds have already proposed the deployment of a multinational force instead, in talks with U.S. officials, Kurdish politician Fawza Youssef told Reuters in an interview in Syria's Qamishli.

With the new proposal, the Kurdish-led authorities intend to undermine Ankara's efforts to gain control of territory in the proposed safe zone in northern Syria.

“This border strip - we do not call it a safe zone - must guarantee security for both sides with international peacekeeping forces, we believe this would be a moderate solution,” Youssef said.

The safe zone idea came to the table with an ambiguous tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 15 announced an agreement with the United States to set up a security zone along the country’s Syrian border.

However, last month, Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson said the Turkish military and mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would not be involved in the establishment of the safe zone.

Youssef said a multinational force at the border could be a guarantor for both sides. “In the first place, we are the ones suffering from threats, not the Turkish side.”

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab alliance that has led the fight against Islamic State (ISIS), which is on the brink of losing its last enclave in eastern Syria. Turkey considers the Syrian People's Protection Units, a Kurdish force that makes up the bulk of the SDF, as a terrorist organisation.