US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that US and Turkey will conduct joint military operations in northern Syrian territories, in order to completely close up the country’s 98 kilometre-border line with Turkey, which is currently controlled by the DAESH terrorist organisation.
He said, "The entire border of northern Syria - 75 percent of it has now been shut off. And we are entering an operation with the Turks to shut off the other remaining 98 kilometers," in an interview with CNN on Nov. 17.
DAESH is already controlling a zone stretching from Jarablus to Marea along the Turkish border. The group reportedly recently attacked the area between Azaz and Mare, which is situated in northwestern Syria and controlled by other opposition groups.
Media reports claimed last week that Turkey will launch its comprehensive operations against the DAESH strongholds in northern Syria in mid-December, under close coordination with the US-led coalition forces, in order to establish a “refugee zone” in the region.
Ankara and Washington take into account that DAESH groups, which are under pressure in northern Syria from Kurdish YPG militias of the PYD and have currently been pushed by the Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq reinforced by US-led coalition air strikes, could be stuck in an area around Jarablus.
Turkish media previously reported that Turkey and US signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) determining allied military planning in order to clear DAESH forces from an area between Marea and Jarablus in northern Syria. The reports put the length of the area at 98 kilometre.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces will also be deployed in the areas cleared from DAESH by the allied forces, according to the MOU.
The allies also referred to the area as “ISIS [DAESH]-free zone,” according to recent media reports.
Turkey reached a comprehensive agreement with the US government on July 23 to allow its Incirlik Air Base to be used by the US-led coalition forces for air strikes against DAESH, in order to execute a joint action plan for northern Syrian issues.
Turkey has consistently defended the plan to establish safe areas and no-fly-zones in Syria. Turkish Foreign Ministry previously indicated that refugees who stay in Turkey and the neighbouring countries, could be settled in the “safe” areas, which will be cleared from DAESH by Turkey and the US-led coalition forces, following effective operations against the group.
More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since the civil war started in 2011 between the Assad regime and opposition forces, following the Arab Spring movement that swept a number of countries in the Middle-East and North Africa.
In addition, 6.7 million people are displaced internally, while at least 5 million have fled the country to the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.