Joint Turkish-U.S. ground patrols for a planned safe zone in northern Syria are set to begin on Sunday, according to Turkey’s national defense minister.
"We plan to start the joint ground patrols on Sept. 8," Hulusi Akar said on Friday during inspections in the eastern Malatya province. “There is a general agreement on which we expect the activities to be carried out at a certain sequence and pace.”
Akar also said Turkey and the U.S. had begun air patrols with both helicopters and unmanned aircraft.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.
A six-member U.S. team arrived in Turkey’s southeast on Aug. 12 in preparations for the center.
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 U.S. has sometimes been allied with, over Turkey’s objections.
The YPG/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror group, which for more than 30 years has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in Turkey, including many children, women, and infants.