By Ayhan Simsek
A safe zone in northern Syria should be patrolled by the Turkish forces and be cleared of the terrorist PKK/YPG group, Turkey’s defense minister said on Saturday.
Hulusi Akar held separate meetings with acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, U.S. special envoy to Syria James Jeffrey and a group of U.S. senators on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
The minister raised Turkey’s expectations from the U.S. and underlined that the terrorist PKK/YPG activities in northern Syria has been the biggest hurdle in a better U.S.-Turkey relationship.
“PKK terrorists do not represent our Kurdish brothers. There is no difference between the PKK and the YPG,” Akar told senior U.S. officials during his meetings.
The Turkish minister underlined that clearing Turkey-Syria border area from the PKK and its Syrian branch YPG has been a top priority for Ankara, in order to ensure the security of Turkish people.
“A 440-kilometres long (273-mile) safe zone in east of Euphrates should be cleared of the terrorist YPG group and should be patrolled by the Turkish forces,” he stressed.
Akar also underlined that Turkey would never allow a terrorist state or terror corridor at its southern border.
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 death of nearly 40,000 people.