Turkey says Syria safe zone centre to start work next week

 A joint Turkish-U.S. operation centre to establish and manage a safe zone in northeast Syria will be fully operational next week, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday.

Turkey and the United States agreed last week to set up the joint operations centre for the proposed zone along Syria’s northeast border but gave few details, such as the size of the zone itself or the command structure of forces that would operate there.

Earlier this week a U.S. delegation visited southern Turkey to work on getting the centre started, and Turkish drones began carrying out work in the area where the safe zone will be created, the defence ministry said.

“The joint operation centre will start working with full capacity next week,” Akar was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Akar said that Turkish and U.S. officials have agreed that Syrian Kurdish YPG militia fighters should be removed from the area and their heavy weapons should be taken.

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for northeastern Syria, where the YPG formed the main part of a U.S.-backed force which fought against Islamic State. Turkey considers the YPG an enemy and a terrorist group.

“There has been certain progress. It marks a good start. There are still things to be done, the efforts will continue,” Akar was quoted as saying by Anadolu.

Ankara and Washington have also agreed in general terms about control and coordination of air space in the region, Akar was reported as saying by Anadolu.

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