A joint Turkish-US operation centre to establish and manage a safe zone in northern Syria is fully operational, Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.
Turkey's Joint Operation Center with the US has begun operating at full capacity, said Turkish Defence Minister on Saturday.
"Field applications of the first phase started," said Hulusi Akar in the Aegean province Izmir, adding that the first joint helicopter flight between the two NATO allies would be taking place in the afternoon.
"In addition, the destruction of terrorist emplacements and fortifications began," Akar stressed.
Turkish and US military officials on August 7 agreed to set up a safe zone and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians, who seek to return their home. They also agreed to establish a joint operation center.
TRT World's defence analyst Oubai Shahbandar has more.
The agreement also envisaged to set up the necessary security measures to address Turkey's security concerns.
Referring to the Turkish cross-border operations, Akar said a total of 654 terrorists were killed over the last eight months in northern Iraq.
He added that Operation Claw 3, launched on Friday in the Sinat-Haftanin region, continued successfully.
Referring to Turkish observation posts in Idlib in northern Syria, Akar underlined that Turkey would use its right of self defence in full if an attack were to occur on Turkish observatory posts and presence in the region.
Idlib de-escalation zone
Turkey and Russia agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the zone.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to some 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces from throughout the war-weary country.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar alAssad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.