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    Turkish military vehicles drive to cross into Syria in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 11, 2019

    Turkey to View Protection of Kurdish Units by Damascus as Declaration of War – Erdogan Aide

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    ANTAKYA (Sputnik) – The possible protection of the Kurdish units, operating in northern Syria, by Damascus will be regarded by Ankara as a declaration of war on Turkey, Yasin Aktay, an adviser of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said on Saturday.

    On October 9, Turkey began the Operation Peace Spring, stating it aimed to rid its southern border of the Kurdish militia, which it views as terrorists. Soon after that Damascus sent troops to the north to protect the Kurdish units.

    “If the Syrian regime [government troops] wants to enter Manbij, Ayn al-Arab [Kobani] and Qamishli to provide protection for the Kurdish People's Protection Units [YPG], that will be viewed by Turkey as the declaration of war and it [Damascus] will face a relevant response,” Aktay said.

    However, if the Syrian government provides Turkey with guarantees that the Kurdish units will not operate in the border area, Ankara may change its position on the Syrian government troops’ advance to the northern part of the country, according to Aktay.

    He added that the Turkish and other foreign troops would leave Syria after the establishment of peace and security across the country.

    “Turkey does not grab anyone’s territories,” Aktay added.

    Aktay also said that Ankara has agreed with Washington to create a 444-kilometre-long (275 miles) safe zone controlled by its troops on the Syrian border.

    "The depth of the created safe zone was discussed during the meeting with the US, when the Turkish side confirmed the need to create a safe zone on the border with Syria with a depth of 32 kilometres [19 miles] and a length of 444 kilometres, which was agreed with the US delegation," Aktay said.

    According to the adviser, the absence of a written agreement with the United States on the safe zone does not mean disagreement on this matter or on the content of the deal.

    "The east of the Euphrates, in particular, the provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, which was discussed with the United States, will be fully included in the safe zone, and we managed to reach mutual understanding on this issue. The agreement reached with the Americans is clear, the Turkish armed forces will exercise control over the safe zone, the depth and extent of which will be determined by Turkey," Aktay stressed.

    At the same time, he pointed out that Ankara’s cooperation with Washington on the safe zone will continue within the framework of the relationship between the two countries as NATO members. After withdrawing from these territories, the United States is expected to leave Turkey with security controls in this area.

    Earlier this week, the ceasefire in northern Syria was announced by US Vice President Mike Pence after hours of talks with Erdogan in Ankara. Pence said the sides had agreed that a 120-hour ceasefire would be put into force in northeast Syria to allow the YPG withdrawal. Both Ankara and the Kurds have accused each other of violating the truce.

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    war, ceasefire, Syria, Turkey
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