Joint Turkey-US ground patrols for a safe zone in northeastern Syria is set to begin on Sunday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, according to Anadolu Agency.
Turkish and US military officials reached an agreement on August 7 for a planned safe zone in the east of Euphrates river in northern Syria that will serve as a "peace corridor" for displaced Syrians wanting to return home, and a Joint Operations Center in Turkey will be set up to coordinate its establishment.
The two NATO allies are working to establish a safe zone in the region mainly controlled by the PKK terror group's Syria affiliate, the YPG and have conducted multiple joint helicopter patrols over the area.
Resettlement of refugees
Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world, but has also helped Syrians voluntarily resettle in areas made safe by the Turkish military.
Turkey has stressed that clearing the northern Syrian area of the terrorist PKK/YPG is a necessary condition for the safe zone.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including many women, children, and infants.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.