Erdogan: Turkey not to allow Syria safe zone to turn into ‘swamp’
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Erdogan: Turkey not to allow Syria safe zone to turn into ‘swamp’

Erdogan made the remarks at an official event in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday. "Our offer for a safe zone aims at keeping terrorists away from our borders. In another words, we are not talking of a safe zone against Turkey, but rather one against terrorists. We will never allow a safe zone that will turn into a new swamp for Turkey like the one in northern Iraq where we still experience problems," he said. Erdogan said that Turkey would work with anyone willing to provide the country with logistic support for the planned establishment of a “20-mile safe zone” in northeastern Syria following US President Donald Trump's decision on December 19, 2018 to withdraw all 2,000 American troops from the Arab country. The Turkish leader also said Ankara had “no hidden agenda” over Syria's territorial integrity and that it would hand over the northern Syrian town of Manbij to its real owners. Manbij had been held by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militants, which Turkey regards as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984. Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants. Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal with Washington to pull YPG Kurdish forces out of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, back to the eastern bank of the river. Trump announced a plan to pull the US forces out of Syria amid plans by Turkey to launch an operation against anti-Damascus Kurdish militants. The Kurdish militants in northern Syria, who have long enjoyed US support, feel abandoned by Washington. The US has been arming and training Kurdish militants under the banner of helping them fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, but Syria and several other countries see ulterior motives behind the deployment. Turkey, a key US ally in the region, has repeatedly questioned Washington’s deployment of heavy weapons in Syria despite the defeat of Daesh in much of the Arab country.

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