‘Turkey to control proposed safe zone in northern Syria’

‘Turkey to control proposed safe zone in northern Syria’

Last month, Trump's withdrawal announcement surprised many politicians in Washington as well as Western and Kurdish allies fighting alongside the USA against the ISIL group.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the U.S. president, in a phone call with him, reaffirmed the USA troop pullout from Syria as well as "a 20-mile [32km] security zone along the Syrian border. will be set up by us [Turkey]".

His top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring allies amid rising tensions between the USA and Turkey over the fate of Washington's Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against Islamic State (Isil).

The leaders spoke by telephone after Mr Trump threatened to "devastate Turkey economically" if it attacked a Kurdish militia when allied USA troops withdrew.

The announcement comes after the Trump threatened to cripple the Turkish economy if Ankara attacks Kurds in Syria.

Erdogan said he held a "quite positive" telephone conversation with Trump late on Monday where he reaffirmed that "a 20-mile (30 kilometre) security zone along the Syrian border... will be set up by us".

U.S. forces, accompanied by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters, drive their armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey, April 28, 2017.

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Turkey has dealt a heavy blow to the terrorist PKK/YPG in Afrin, Syria, and it will soon move to eliminate terrorist groups east of the Euphrates River, Erdogan says. He warned the United States would "devastate Turkey economically if they hit the Kurds".

Erdogan said Turkey would solve issues with a "spirit of alliance" with Trump as long as his country's sensitivities were taken into account.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara was not against the idea of a secure zone along the border, but said partners and allies should not communicate via social media.

Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara would "continue to fight against them all", referring to IS and the YPG.

The Turkish government considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

There has been growing tension between Turkey and the U.S. over the fate of the YPG, especially after Pompeo this month said Washington would ensure Turkey does not "slaughter" Kurds. "Turkey is the country of my Kurdish brothers as well".

And before a visit to Ankara last week, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said the USA retreat was conditional on the safety of Kurdish fighters, provoking angry retorts from Turkish officials.

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