The agreement between Turkey and the U.S. on a planned safe zone in northern Syria can help to de-escalate situation in the region, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday.
Speaking at a joint news conference with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Stoltenberg said: "The situation in northeast Syria is fragile and difficult. I believe that this statement can help to de-escalate situation and therefore help to improve the situation on the ground."
On Thursday, Turkey and the U.S. came to an agreement to pause Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria.
Visiting Turkey last week, the NATO chief had said Turkey is at the forefront of "very volatile region", no other allies have suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey and the country host millions of refugees.
For his part, Pompeo said: “There were some activity today on implementing the agreement between Turkey and the U.S., adding very “intensive coordination” is required to withdraw YPG/PKK from the planned safe zone.
Recalling that some European countries have announced that they will take back foreign fighters affiliated with Daesh terror group, the U.S. state secretary said, he was happy with that but he was also “disappointed with the delays”.
On Thursday, Turkey agreed to pause its Operation Peace Spring for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK forces from the planned safe zone.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also agreed on Turkey having 20 miles (32 kilometers) of safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria.
On Oct. 9, Turkey had launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG/PKK.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
By Faruk Zorlu