Turkey’s Erdogan says not to tolerate U.S. delay in safe zone plan in northeastern Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will not allow the United States to delay the plan to set up a safe zone in northeastern Syria, CNN Turk reported on Thursday.

The agreement reached between Turkey and the United States is “a correct step” towards establishing a safe zone and clearing the east of Euphrates from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Erdogan told reporters on his way back from an official visit to Russia.

He also recalled an earlier deal with the United States to remove YPG fighters from Syria’s northern city of Manbij, stressing that Ankara will not accept delays again like Washington had caused in the Mabij deal.

“We will never tolerate a delay like we saw in Manbij. The process must advance rapidly,” he said, calling on the United States to “distance itself from the terrorists.”

Turkey and the United States have been at odds over the northeastern Syria and the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

However, the United States has allied itself with the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. army officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northeastern Syria, which is expected to turn into a “peace corridor” stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border to facilitate the return of displaced Syrians living in Turkey to their home country and to address Turkey’s security concerns along the border.