Terror organisation defines U.S. proposals on northern Syria safe zone - columnist

The United States has been negotiating a safe zone to be established in northern Syria with both Turkey and a terrorist organisation and shapes its proposals according to terrorists' demands, said Hande Fırat, a columnist of pro-government Hürriyet daily on Friday.

Turkey has repeatedly said over the past year that it has been planning to launch a military offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which controls some enclaves in northern Syria alongside the Turkish border. Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting inside Turkey for more than three decades and is designated as a terrorist organisation by Washington.

A Turkish-U.S. deal announced last week over the establishment of a safe zone Turkey demands in northern Syria against Kurdish threats has, for now, stalled Turkish plans for a military incursion.

But Turkish and U.S. officials’ talks over the safe zone this week showed that the two sides still disagree over the size of the planned zone and who will control it. 

The Turkish side demands a 32-kilometre deep safe zone, while the United States proposes a safe zone that will consist of three different security belts, Habertürk columnist Muharrem Sarıkaya said on Wednesday. In the first 5-kilometre deep strip, Turkish and U.S. troops will conduct joint patrols, but Turkish forces will not be allowed to enter in Kurdish-controlled towns, according to the U.S. proposal. 

“The United States, which sits at the negotiation table as Turkey’s ally, is also conducting the same negotiations with the terrorist organisation,” Fırat said, referring to the YPG and its umbrella organisation, the predominantly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. Fırat said the 5-kilometre deep zone plan was a proposal that could be accepted by the terrorist organisation. 

Mazloum Kobani, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told the SDF-linked Hawar News Agency on Thursday that, they welcomed the U.S.-Turkey negotiations on the safe zone. Kobani said the safe zone that the Syrian Kurds had proposed had a minimum depth of 5 kilometres and a maximum of 14 kilometres in some areas.