Sep 05 2019

Turkey will start forming safe zone in Syria this month, Erdoğan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his government will start forming a safe zone in northern Syria by the last week of September.

The area, east of the Euphrates river, will be created “according to our wishes”, Erdoğan told municipal officials of his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on Thursday, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.

Turkey has been in talks with the United States about how to establish a safe zone inside Syria’s border, but they have snagged over its size and composition. The United States has angered Turkey by supporting Kurdish militants in the region with training and arms to ensure the threat from Islamic State (ISIS) does not resurface. Turkey sees the fighters as terrorists.

“Our aim is to settle at least one million of our Syrian brothers in an area stretching 450 kilometres along the border,” Erdoğan said.

The Turkish president said Europe had better prepare for a new influx of refugees as fighting between Syrian forces and Islamic militants rages in the Syrian province of Idlib. Tens of thousands of refugees have begun flooding towards Turkey’s border.

“We will be forced to open the gates,” he said. “Are we the only ones to bear this burden?”

Erdoğan said Turkey had not received the financial support necessary from the European Union and the rest of the world to support Syrian migrants.

“In order to get (this support) we may be forced to do this,” he said.