Turkey must control safe zone in northern Syria, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said a safe zone in northeastern Syria must be under Turkey's control, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

“If there is to be a safe zone along our border then it must be under our control. Because that is my border," Erdoğan said in a televised interview on CNN Turk. 

His remarks arrive following an announcement of a Pentagon official that the Turkish military would not be involved in the establishment of the safe zone in northeastern Syria along the Turkish border.

"If the safe zone plans move outside of our strategic understanding, we cannot accept it. Because if there will be a safe zone on our border, it must be under our control. Because it's our border. Where do missiles hit first? They hit my country," the Turkish president said.

Last December, the U.S. President Donald Trump made an abrupt announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing all of its troops from Syria and said Islamic State (ISIS) had been defeated in the country. 

The U.S. Defence Ministry on Feb. 22 said that the United States would leave around 400 U.S. soldiers in the region. Two hundred U.S. troops will remain in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria and another 200 at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria.

Trump earlier this year gave Turkey the green light to set up a 500 km long and 32 km wide safe zone in the north of neighbouring Syria. But recently, Washington has been negotiating with Western countries for the establishment of the buffer zone.

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