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Turkish-US ground patrols of Syria safe zone to start Sunday

September 6, 2019
In this Aug. 22, 2019 photo, provided by the U.S. Army, shows A U.S. service member watches as Syrian Democratic Forces remove military fortifications during the implementation of the security mechanism along the Turkey-Syria border in northeast Syria. Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the executive committee of the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Council said Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, that the creation of a so-called “safe zone” in northeastern Syria is off to good start, with U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces pulling back from an initial part of the border with Turkey, but calm can only prevail if Turkey also removes its troops. (Spc. Alec Dionne/U.S. Army via AP )
In this Aug. 22, 2019 photo, provided by the U.S. Army, shows A U.S. service member watches as Syrian Democratic Forces remove military fortifications during the implementation of the security mechanism along the Turkey-Syria border in northeast Syria. Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the executive committee of the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Council said Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, that the creation of a so-called “safe zone” in northeastern Syria is off to good start, with U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces pulling back from an initial part of the border with Turkey, but calm can only prevail if Turkey also removes its troops. (Spc. Alec Dionne/U.S. Army via AP )

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s defense minister says Turkish and U.S. troops will begin joint ground patrols of a planned so-called safe zone in northern Syria on Sunday.

Hulusi Akar made the comments to reporters on Friday.

Turkey has been pressing for the creation of a safe zone that would keep U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, considered terrorists by Turkey, away from its border. Turkey also says some Syrian refugees could be resettled in the zone.

Turkey and the U.S. have carried out joint helicopter patrols.

On Thursday, Turkey warned that it could “open its gates” and allow Syrian refugees in the country to move toward Western countries if a safe zone is not created and Turkey is left to shoulder the refugee burden alone. Turkey hosts 3.6 million refugees from Syria.

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