Turkey, US launch joint safe zone patrols in northern Syria

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Turkish and U.S. ground troops started joint patrols to establish a “safe zone” along the border in northeast Syria on Sunday.

The patrols were initiated as the first phase of a safe zone plan.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) dispatched six armored vehicles, which joined the U.S. military convoy 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) away from the Akçakale border town of Turkey’s southeastern Şanlıurfa province.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry announced the start of the joint ground patrols on Twitter and said the patrols are being supported by unmanned aerial vehicles.

The joint forces will advance south from Syria’s border town of Tal Abyad.

On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.

A six-member U.S. team arrived in Turkey’s southeast on Aug. 12 in preparations for the center.

The region east of the Euphrates river is currently controlled by the PKK terror group’s Syrian affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) terror group.

The agreement also envisaged setting up necessary security measures to address Turkey’s security concerns, including clearing the zone of the terrorist YPG/PKK, a group the U.S. has sometimes been allied with.

The YPG/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror group, which for more than 30 years has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in Turkey, including many children, women, and infants.