The second round of Turkish-US talks was launched in Ankara on Monday to discuss the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria.
The first round of talks between US and Turkish officials was held on July 23 when James Jeffrey, the US envoy for Syria, met in Ankara with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and other officials.
He had discussed the zone and other issues, including progress on a roadmap agreed last year for the northern town of Manbij to be cleared of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
During the first round of talks, the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the issue.
Turkey is demanding that the depth of the safe zone be around 32 kilometers and stressed that it wants the YPG cleared in the region.
However, the US insisted on a 5-14 kilometer-deep safe zone with no permanent deployment of Turkish troops, with only the presence of a coalition power under its leadership.
Sources close to Monday’s talks said that the US delegation carried a new proposal stipulating that the safe zone be 15 kilometers deep and 140 kilometers long with the withdrawal of YPG fighters and the removal of their fortifications in this area.
The proposal also suggests that Turkish-US militaries would jointly patrol the area, located in the middle third of the northeastern border, stretching between the Euphrates River and Iraq. The other two thirds would be cleared later, according to the same sources.
The YPG has been the main US ally on the ground in Syria during Washington’s fight against ISIS.
However, Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the group, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization, and has repeatedly demanded that Washington cut its ties.
Turkey will carry out a military operation in a Kurdish-controlled area east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, its third offensive to dislodge Kurdish fighters close to its border.
Turkey had in the past warned of carrying out military operations east of the river, but put them on hold after agreeing with the United States to create a safe zone inside Syria’s northeastern border with Turkey that would be cleared of the YPG.
Ankara has accused Washington of stalling progress on setting up the safe zone and has demanded it sever its relations with the YPG. The group was Washington’s main ally on the ground in Syria during the battle against ISIS, but Turkey sees it as a terrorist organization.
“We entered Afrin, Jarablus, and Al-Bab. Now we will enter the east of the Euphrates,” Erdogan said on Sunday during a motorway-opening ceremony.