US team in southern Turkey to work on joint operations center

US joins hands with Turkey to work on a a joint operations center to coordinate a planned safe zone in neighboring Syria. (Photo/Turkish military)
Updated 12 August 2019

US team in southern Turkey to work on joint operations center

  • There has been cautious progress on the center despite other disputes straining bilateral ties

ISTANBUL: A US delegation has arrived in Turkey’s southern province of Sanliurfa to start work on the establishment of a joint operations center to coordinate a planned safe zone in neighboring Syria, Turkish authorities said on Monday.

The two NATO allies agreed in talks last week to establish the center that would manage the zone in northern Syria though no agreement has been announced on key details of the zone, including the size of the area in question and the command structure of joint patrols that would be conducted there.

There has been cautious progress on the center despite other disputes straining bilateral relations, including Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, as well as trials of local US Consulate employees in Turkey on terrorism charges.

Work to establish the center has begun and it is expected to become active in coming days, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Twitter. 

“Within this context, a six-person US delegation has arrived in Sanliurfa with the purpose of preliminary preparation,” it said.

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for northeastern Syria, where US allies on the ground in the battle against Daesh include the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey considers an enemy and a terrorist group.

The allies have been discussing a safe zone near the Turkish frontier that would be kept free of combatants and heavy weapons, but Turkey wants it to extend more than twice as far into Syrian territory as the US has proposed.

Turkey has suggested it will act militarily if the US fails to agree on a solution that will safeguard the border. Turkey says the YPG is an extension in Syria of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since the 1980s.


Iran says it has warned US against seizing oil tanker

Updated 27 min 41 sec ago

Iran says it has warned US against seizing oil tanker

TEHRAN: Tehran said on Monday that it has warned Washington against making another attempt to seize an Iranian tanker that has departed Gibraltar despite a US bid to have it detained.
“Iran has given necessary warnings to American officials through its official channels... not to make such a mistake because it would have grave consequences,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told a news conference.
Iran had been locked in a high-seas standoff with US ally Britain since Royal Marines seized the tanker off the coast of UK territory Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
Two weeks later, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps impounded a British-flagged tanker in strategic Gulf waters in what Britain called a tit-for-tat move.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman dismissed the notion that there was a link between the two seizures.
“There is no connection whatsoever between these two vessels,” said Mousavi.
“There have been two or three maritime violations made by that ship,” he said, referring to the British-flagged Stena Impero held off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
“The court is looking into it. We hope the (investigation) is completed as soon as possible and the verdict is issued.”