Turkish drones begin flying over planned Syria safe zone

Turkey’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have begun operating in the area of northeastern Syria where Washington and Ankara have agreed to create a safe zone. 

Turkey and the United States agreed last week to set up a joint operations centre to oversee the establishment of a safe zone, without revealing details such as zone size or command structure. A six-person U.S. delegation arrived in the southern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa on Monday to begin setting up the operations centre.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that work was continuing to set up the Şanlıurfa operations centre, adding that Turkish drones had started working in the area where the safe zone will be created, without providing details. 

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for the safe zone, where the U.S.-allied, Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) are seen by Turkey as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group also recognised by the United States as a terrorist organisation.

Turkey has vowed to clear the area of YPG, which the United States views as crucial to the fight against Islamic State. 

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