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32-km wide safe zone to be formed in northern Syria

Safe zone to cover 460-kilometer (286-mile) Turkey-Syria border line

Ali Murat Alhas   | 15.01.2019
32-km wide safe zone to be formed in northern Syria

By Levent Tok and Selen Temizer

ANKARA

U.S. President Donald Trump came up with a proposal of creating a safe zone in northern Syria, an idea that Ankara had been repeatedly voicing since the beginning of the civil war in the country.

In a Twitter post on Monday, Trump proposed the establishment of a 20-mile (32-kilometer) wide safe zone in Syria's eastern Euphrates region. Later in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone talk with his U.S. counterpart and evaluated the details of the safe zone.

Speaking at the group meeting of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, Erdogan said that he had been emphasizing the importance of creating a safe zone since Barack Obama’s administration in the U.S.

According to Anadolu Agency’s map measurement, the safe zone will cover a 460-kilometer (286-mile) Turkey-Syria border line.

The safe zone will include the settlements in northern Raqqa and Hasakah; it will pass through Sarrin from west to east, northern Ayn Issa, northern Suluk, Ras al-Ayn and Tal Tamer along with Darbasiyah, Amude, Qamishli, Tal Hamis, Qahtaniyah, Yarubiyah and al-Malikiyah.

All areas, including towns and villages of Shuyukh Tahtani, Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) Tal Abyad, Darbasiyah, Amude, Qahtaniyyah, Jawadiyah and al-Malikiyah districts will be included in the safe zone.

The line starts in western Syria, near the Sajur River in eastern Manbij. Manbij town center will remain out of the safe zone.

On the other hand, the Bashar al-Assad regime has a presence in the Qamishli district of Hasakah province, which is physically included in the safe zone.

Need for a safe zone

The safe zone issue was first brought to the global agenda when Erdogan visited the U.S. in May 2013.

Erdogan proposed a three-stage plan that included a no-fly zone, a safe zone for civilians and launching a joint land operation along with the coalition forces.

Turkish officials have repeatedly spoken of establishing a safe zone in the war-torn country.

The establishment of safe zone was previously proposed by Ankara with an aim to protect civilian population that could take shelter there. Turkey is working to make the proposed safe zone as an area where all internally displaced Syrians can be gathered or the civilians taking refuge in Turkey can return and settle.

It is regarded as almost certain that the Syrian people will continue to migrate abroad, particularly to Europe, for being deprived of social services and shelter even if the civil war ends.

The European countries are the most concerned party in this context.

In a surprising move, U.S. President Donald Trump last month announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

Trump made the decision during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.

Turkey has repeatedly objected to U.S. support for the terrorist PKK/PYD as a "reliable ally" in Syria, which has included supplying arms and equipment.

In its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the terrorist PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The YPG/PKK is the PKK's Syrian branch.

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