US, Turkey Intensify Efforts to Form Syria Buffer Zone

Washington and Ankara have stepped up their efforts to form a Joint Operations Center, a precursor to setting up the safe zone in northeastern Syria.

Six US military personnel, who will be involved in the coordination center for joint operations and the planned security zone, arrived in Turkey on Monday, the Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said some steps are expected in the coming days to enforce a safe zone in northern Syria.

He stressed that his country is holding out for a northern Syrian safe zone of between 30 and 40 km in depth, and will not hesitate to unilaterally devise alternate plans in northern Syria.

“Call it a plan B or plan C, if things do not work, we will take recourse to unilateral activities and actions in northern Syria,” Akar said.

During an interview with state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), the minister said Turkey may act on its own in northern Syria to create a safe zone if a deal with the US does not work as wanted.

“Airspace control and coordination are very important. There has been a great deal of progress on that,” he stated, adding that Ankara hopes that steps that would be taken with the US in northern Syria would be in line with the spirit of alliance and strategic partnership.

Separately, Moscow continued to back Syrian regime forces in their battles to isolate northern Hama from southern Idlib.

Confirming the intensity of the ongoing fighting around Idlib, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that dozens of soldiers from the Syrian regime were killed or injured during the fighting.

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