Turkish media has reported that Turkey and the US have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) determining allied military planning in order to clear ISIS forces from an area between Marea and Jarablus in northern Syria.
Hurriyet Daily News (HDN) has reported that the newspaper reached the details of the MOU which projects to clear a 98-kilometre-long area from ISIS between Marea and Jarablus going about 45 kilometres deep inside the Syrian territory.
The report has stated that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces will be deployed in the areas cleared from ISIS by the allied forces according to the MOU. Syrian refugees who stay in Turkey could be settled in the the cleared areas in a voluntary base following effective operations against the group, the report added.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu previously said a “comprehensive battle” against ISIS will start soon after Turkey and the US have agreed to use the Incirlik base. The base is located 100 km (60 miles) from northwest Syrian border and Turkish airfield will also be used by the US-led coalition forces for airstrikes against the group in order to execute a joint action plan for northern Syrian issues.
Media reports have recently stated that Turkey and the US-led coalition forces are planning to create an ISIS-free zone in northern Syria where the group is already controlling an area from Jarablus to Marea along the Turkish border.
The zone is also laid out between the two Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD)-controlled “cantons” Kobani and Afrin. The PYD is able to expand its controlled territories in northern Syria after the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the militant wing of the PYD, captured Tel Abyad from ISIS on June 15 and joined its Kobane and the Jazira “cantons.”
The PYD expansion against ISIS has been supported by US-led airstrikes.
Turkey considers the PYD as the Syrian branch of outlawed PKK which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, NATO, the EU, and the US.
Turkey aims to keep the expansion of the PYD in check and has previously declared that Turkey will consider any incursion to the west of the Euphrates river in northern Syria along the Turkish border by the PYD as a “violation of the red line” which was set by the most recent National Security Council meeting in late June.
ISIS-held Jarablus is located in the west of Euphrates next to the PYD-controlled Kobani “canton.” Turkey’s “red line” against the PYD and the group’s motivation to move further west of the river “puts more pressure on the U.S. and Turkey to find an alternative capable of filling the void in the region," a Wall Street Journal report recently stated.
Turkey and the US have reportedly decided to overcome the differences on the presence of the PYD in the region and to fill “the void” with the latest Incirlik deal.
However, in the MOU, there have been no clauses connected to the status quo of the PYD in the region, according to the HDN report.
The report has stated that the countries have reached a verbal agreement to prevent the PYD crossing to the west of the Euphrates river and not allowing the group to settle the cleared area.
Turkey has informed the US that it will move against the PYD “if the group targeted Turkey and crossed the river,” and the US has issued a clear warning against the PYD on the prospects, the report also claimed.
In addition, the HDN has reported on the recent speculations surrounding the decision of the withdrawal of the Patriot Missile Defence System from Turkey by Germany at a time when Turkey heavily strikes the PKK targets in Northern Iraq in response to the attacks carried out by the group in Turkish territories.
German Defence Ministry last Friday announced that it is preparing for an early withdrawal of the system and 260 soldiers operating for NATO mission in Turkey.
The US military officials told their Turkish counterparts during the discussions of the Incirlik deal that Turkey does not need a Patriot system to defend itself against Syrian missiles based on the assessment of the NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), the report has stated.
The report has claimed that Necdet Ozel, the former Turkish chief of general staff, has already found out the system “unnecessary,” and has not objected its withdrawal, according to its sources.
Instead, it is expected that the US will initiate a process through which a more powerful air defence system will be transferred to Turkey replacing the Patriot system.
The US and Turkey will create another document under the light of the recent MOU outlining “concept and plan of the operation” which will indicate the detailed information about US air forces connected to its aims and missions in Turkish bases, the report also said.
In addition, the US aircraft will be able to use Batman, Diyarbakir, and Malatya airfields in addition to the Incirlik airbase in Turkey according to this planning.