Turkey threatens to create Syrian safe zone without U.S. if no agreement reached
ANKARA, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Turkey will have to set up a safe zone in northern Syria on its own if no agreement is reached with the United States, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told his U.S. counterpart by phone on Monday.
According to a statement released by Turkey's Defense Ministry, Akar discussed the issue of the Syrian safe zone with U.S. new Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Akar said the criteria by which the safe zone is created should include seizure of all weapons from the Kurdish militants, elimination of the militant group, and destruction of all Kurdish tunnels, shelters, equipment and ammunition.
The planned safe zone, which will be jointly controlled by Turkey and the United States, should be 30 to 40 km in depth, he noted.
In January, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed the creation of the safe zone in northern Syria as a solution to ease tensions between Turkey and the U.S.-backed Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units militia which is seen as a terrorist group by Ankara.
Turkey wants to have full control of the safe zone while the United States insists on an area without permanent deployment of Turkish troops.
Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said following talks between Turkish and U.S. delegations that the two countries had not agreed on the size of the possible safe zone, who will control it, and removal of Kurdish militants from the planned area.