Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that the 1998 agreement with Damascus allows Ankara to enter the Syrian territory when it faces threats.
According to Erdogan, Turkey should have control "in the field" and is not open to other suggestions. He added that it is only Ankara that could establish a safe zone in the Arab Republic.
Turkey announced plans to create the safe zone in Syria in January, with the idea being previously agreed upon with US President Donald Trump and discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week. During their meeting on 23 January, Russian and Turkish presidents focused on the creation of the security zone in the northern part of Syria, as well as the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib and the Manbij region.
As announced by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu the following day, Ankara must be among those who will be creating a safe zone controlled by the Turkish military in northeastern Syria proposed by the United States. He added that Turkey has no objections concerning Russia's and the US' participation in the control over the buffer zone if the mentioned countries wanted it.
Turkey and the US have been mulling the creation of the aforementioned safe zone since Washington announced its decision to pull out troops from Syria in December. The same month, Ankara announced it was mulling a military operation against Kurdish fighters on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River as well as in Syria's Manbij, located near the Turkish border if the United States did not remove the militia from the area.
Ankara considers the Kurdish militia in Syria to be part of the Kurdistan Working Party (PKK), a group listed as a terrorist organisation in Turkey. Turkish troops and Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army rebels conducted two military campaigns in the Arab Republic over the past several years, explaining them by the need to secure its borders with Syria amid the threat posed by the Kurdish forces.