(4 Oct 2019) The U.S.-led coalition and Turkey conducted on Friday their third joint patrol in northeastern Syria amid renewed concerns the plan designed to defuse tensions between Washington’s two allies – Ankara and the Syrian Kurds- may not be enough.
Ankara and Washington agreed in August to carry out the joint patrols and remove Syrian Kurdish fighters from the borders.
But they still disagree on the size of the area along the Syria-Turkey border and who is to monitor it.
The Friday patrol followed a telephone call late Thursday between Turkish General Hulusi Akar and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in which Akar said Turkey would end the joint patrols “if there are distractions, delays,” according to a statement from the Turkish Defence Ministry.
Akar urged the U.S. to end its support of Syrian Kurdish fighters, who were the coalition’s partners in the battle against Islamic State militants in Syria.
Turkey had carried out military incursions with allied Syrian groups in western Syria to drive out Kurdish fighters, as well as IS militants, and has stationed troops there.
But a Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria would carry a larger risk, bringing troops into a zone where at least 1,000 U.S. soldiers are deployed.
The coalition said the patrol went ahead as planned and Turkey’s Defence Ministry said it was in an area east of the town of Tal Abyad.
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