The United States intends to maintain its presence in the Syrian airspace after the withdrawal of its troops from the country, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Tuesday, citing an unofficial US action plan proposal.
“Last week, the US delegation led by [National Security Advisor John] Bolton conveyed to us an unofficial five-point document in which the United States confirms the withdrawal of its troops from Syria, the determination to continue the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group [IS, banned in Russia] and Washington’s intention to maintain its presence in Syrian airspace as part of the coalition,” Kalin told reporters in Ankara.
This comes as earlier on Tuesday, President Erdogan said that he had reached a “historic understanding” with Trump in a phone talk, stressing that Ankara was set to create a 32-kilometre safe zone in Northern Syria, which could be expanded.
The zone will act as a buffer area in Syria that would ensure the safety of the US’ Kurdish allies and prevent terrorists from attacking Turkey.
The idea of a buffer zone was first suggested by President Trump amid a bitter war of words that has been ongoing between officials of both Turkey and the US following Washington’s decision to withdraw troops from the war-torn Middle Eastern state.
The key point in the brewing scandal is the US support for Syrian Kurdish fighters, as Turkey regards them as part of the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Erdogan declared in December that Ankara was ready to launch a military operation against Kurdish fighters on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, as well as in Manbij in Syria if the US would not withdraw its forces from there.
However, Erdogan announced that the operation was postponed after the phone talk with Trump.