Senior U.S. military officers claim "impressive" progress in cooperation with NATO ally Turkey in northeast Syria. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is warning of unilateral action against Washington's critical Syrian ally if Turkish security demands aren't met by the end of the month.
"I am constantly impressed by what the CJOC [Combined Joint Operation Center] has achieved in such a short period of time," said Brig. Gen. Christian Wortman in a briefing to journalists. "I would like to compliment our Turkish allies for their high levels of professionalism."
CJOC is based in Turkey's Sanliurfa province, which borders Syria. The command center was set up under an August agreement between U.S. and Turkish generals to create what Washington calls a "security mechanism," and what Ankara refers to a "safe zone," in northeast Syria.
Ankara claims the zone is necessary to protect its border from the Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, which it considers terrorists linked to an insurgency inside Turkey. The YPG is also a key ally in the Washington-led war against Islamic State.
"The intention of this 'security mechanism' is to address Turkey's legitimate security concerns and preserve conditions to continue cooperation to defeat ISIS, while fostering conditions that reduce the risk of violence and instability that would be counterproductive to all parties," said Wortman, U.S. director of CJOC.
On Wednesday, Erdogan again slammed the lack of progress, reiterating an ultimatum to Washington.
Analysts say the U.S. and Turkey also still remain at loggerheads over the details of the security arrangement. Erdogan wants to establish a 40-kilometer-deep Turkish-controlled zone into northeast Syria. Reports suggest Washington has agreed to a far more modest region of control.
Source : VOA News