Turkey will sort out the formation of a safe zone in the east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria in a few weeks, the Turkish president said Saturday.
"Now there is the east of the Euphrates on our agenda. I hope that in a few weeks, one way or another, but surely we will sort it out," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during an event with his governing Justice and Development (AK) Party's members in Turkey's central Eskisehir province.
Erdogan also said that if the EU dishonours the pledge of support to Turkey regarding Syrian refugees, Turkey has no other option but "opening its doors" to let Syrian refugees cross into Europe.
The 2016 refugee deal with the EU aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions for the 3 million — now 3.6 million — Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey has complained that the EU failed to uphold its side of the deal, including millions of euros in aid for the Syrian refugees.
He also stressed that Turkey will not remain silent to over 30,000 weapon, equipment and ammunition-laden trucks sent by the US to the northern Syria area [to the PKK/YPG] as Turkey is the only country in the region to fight with.
Turkey-US top army chiefs discuss safe zone
The establishment of a safe zone in the east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria should be set up without any delay, the chief of Turkish General Staff said to his US counterpart on Saturday.
In a phone call, Gen. Yasar Guler explained US Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford the views and expectations of Turkey about the region, adding that the formation of the safe zone should be done "within the framework of the principles set in the calendar," the Defence Ministry said in a written statement.
Turkish and US military officials reached an agreement on Aug. 7 that a planned safe zone in northern Syria will serve as a "peace corridor" for displaced Syrians wanting to return home and that a Joint Operations Center in Turkey will be set up to coordinate its establishment.
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 US has sometimes been allied with, over Turkey’s objections.
The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of terror group PKK, which has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in Turkey, including many children, women, and infants, for more than 30 years.