The United States and Turkey yesterday began joint patrols in northeastern Syria aimed at easing tensions between Ankara and US-backed Kurdish forces who battled the Islamic State jihadist group.
Damascus yesterday said it strongly opposes joint patrols in northeast Syria , calling it a flagrant “aggression” that seeks to prolong the country’s eight-year conflict.Six Turkish armoured vehicles crossed the border to join US forces in Syria for their first joint patrol under a deal reached between Washington and Ankara, an AFP journalist reported.
Two helicopters flew over the area as the Turkish vehicles drove through an opening in the concrete wall separating the two countries.
They then headed west along with the same number of American vehicles, along with an ambulance and a pick-up, for the joint operation, before crossing back into Turkey.
The Turkish defence ministry said drones were also deployed.
The agreement reached on August 7 aims to establish a “safe zone” between the Turkish border and the Syrian areas east of the Euphrates river controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Syrian Kurdish forces began withdrawing from along the Turkish border in late August.
The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces -- a key partner of Washington in the fight against IS jihadists in Syria.
But Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.