Turkey says joint US helicopter flights start over Syria 'safe zone'

ISTANBUL (dpa)- Turkey said on Saturday that it had started the first joint helicopter flights with the United States over a so-called "safe zone" in northern Syria.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar also said a joint coordination centre between the two countries was fully operational, state news agency Anadolu reported.

The centre is located in the south-eastern Turkish province of Sanliurfa, which borders Syria.
Earlier this month, Ankara and Washington agreed to establish a buffer zone in northern Syria, which Damascus rejected as an attack on its sovereignty.
Few details have been provided about the zone. In a phone call this week, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Akar said they would execute the plan in phases, with "technical details" still to be worked out.
Turkey has been pushing to control a zone about 40 kilometres deep in northern Syria and remove the US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces there.
Ankara considers these forces - such as the People's Protection Units (YPG), which controls large areas of northern Syria on its border - to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency within Turkey.
Washington relied on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia, as the most effective group in defeating Islamic State in Syria.
SDF chief Mazloum Kobani said Saturday the Kurds will work to achieve concurrence with Turkey in coordination with the US, according to Kurdish website ANF.
"There are initial agreements to establish security in the region through border points. We will be a positive partner to this process," he said at a meeting in the Kurdish-controlled province of al-Hassakeh in north-eastern Syria.

Sunday, August 25th 2019

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