BERLIN (AA): The U.S. is planning to set up a safe zone in northern Syria to reduce the risk of terror attacks on Turkey and avoid further tension in the region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
Speaking at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas following their meeting in Berlin, Pompeo underlined that the U.S. will continue to support UN efforts for a political solution in Syria and continue its efforts to reduce risk of violence.
“You’ve seen the work that we have done with the Turks in Manbij the west of the Euphrates River,” Pompeo said referring to the joint patrols by the U.S. and Turkish troops in the area.
“And we are attempting to set up a system something that can add to that. Call it a buffer zone, call it what you will … That will reduce the risk of terrorists attacking from Syria into Turkey,” he said.
Asked about local media reports that claimed U.S. administration was seeking military support from Germany and other allies for setting up such a safe zone, Pompeo confirmed that the talks were underway between the partners.
“We’ve committed our forces there … and we’ve asked our European partners to assist us. As we develop the plans, we’ll see what the force requirements would actually look like,” he said.
Pompeo underlined that the planned safe zone also intends to prevent further tensions between Turkey and the U.S.-backed groups in the area.
The activities of the terrorist PYD/PKK group in northern Syria has been a major security concern for Ankara, while the U.S. administration viewed the group as a “reliable partner” in the fight against Daesh.
Turkish leaders have long warned their U.S. counterparts that one cannot rely on a terrorist organization in the fight against another terrorist group.
The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children.