Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that new US proposals for a safe zone in northern Syria were “not satisfactory”, adding that Ankara was losing patience as Washington appears to be stalling in efforts to seal an agreement.
“The United States must come with proposals that are satisfactory to us or are close to our proposals,” Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey’s patience “has run out.”
US special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey held talks in Ankara this week on the zone and other issues, including progress on a roadmap agreed last year for the northern town of Manbij to be cleared of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG has been the main US ally on the ground in Syria during Washington’s fight against ISIS. However, Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the group, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization, and has repeatedly demanded that Washington cut its ties.
Following the US decision to withdraw from northern Syria, the NATO allies agreed to create the safe zone, which Turkey says should be controlled by its forces and also cleared of the YPG.
Turkey and the US have been divided on the size of the safe zone, who would control it and the degree to which the Kurdish fighters would pull back. Ankara wants Turkish troops to control the zone.
Cavusoglu, speaking to reporters at a joint news conference with visiting Nicaraguan counterpart, Denis Moncada, said the US delegation had offered new proposals on the safe zone, including possible joint patrols and “who would be in it and who would enter.”
He did not elaborate on what was unsatisfactory about the new Washington proposal.
He warned Ankara may launch a new offensive to secure its border if an agreement is not reached soon.
“Our wish is for a safe zone to be established soon,” Cavusoglu added. “Otherwise, we will do whatever is necessary ourselves.”
The US Embassy in Ankara said the issues discussed included “proposals to enhance Turkey’s security along the border in northeast Syria.
“The discussions were forthright, positive and productive,” the embassy statement read. “The US and Turkey continue to exchange views on mutual concerns in Syria and we look forward to continuing these discussions, including through military-to-military consultations.”
Since 2016, Turkey has launched two cross-border offensives against ISIS and the Kurdish fighters. It has recently been sending reinforcements to its border area, signaling a possible new offensive.
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