Turkey says joint Turkish-U.S. patrol bases will be established in northeast Syria

Turkey and the United States will establish joint patrol bases in northeast Syria as a part of plans to establish a safe zone in the region, Turkish Defence Minister said in an interview with pro-government Türkiye newspaper on Thursday. 

“We will establish patrolling bases on the east of Euphrates. They would be joint Turkish-U.S. bases. We want them to be permanent," Türkiye quoted Minister Hulusi Akar as saying. Akar said the number of joint bases to be established would be decided according to the actual needs.

Last month the United States and Turkey agreed to set up a safe zone in northeast Syria to address Ankara’s security concerns over Kurdish-held territories in northeast Syria. Turkey sees the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its affiliate the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which forms the backbone of U.S.-led coalition forces fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, as extensions of outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey and the United States agreed on a deal for the establishment of a safe zone, after Ankara repeatedly warned that it would launch a military operation against the SDF-held areas in northeast Syria.

Akar said the plans for the establishment of the safe zone was generally progressing according to the schedule, but there were delays sometimes. 

“We made progress in the coordination and the control of the air space,” Akar said in relation to joint efforts for the safe zone. “They (United States) accepted the removal of the fortifications and withdrawal of heavy weapons. What we have achieved is apparent. They are doing it unwillingly, it goes slowly, but eventually we make progress,” he said. 

Turkey and the United States have conducted several joint land and air patrols over the proposed zone between Syria's Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn. Akar said that they were planning to cover all 440 kilometres (273 miles) along Turkey's border for the safe zone.

The minister said Turkey would take the matter into own hands, in case of severe distractions or delays. "We can launch a military operation in summer or winter," he told Türkiye. 

Akar repeated his warning during a speech on Thursday in Ankara. "We will continue negotiation and joint efforts [to establish a safe zone] as long as they meet our goals and objectives,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted the minister as saying.