ANKARA (Dispatches) – Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that Washington is stalling in its agreement to create a "safe zone” in northeast Syria, and repeated that Ankara was ready to act on its own if necessary to push back Kurdish militants.
The NATO allies have agreed to establish what Ankara calls a safe zone along Turkey’s southern border and clear the region of Syrian Kurdish YPG militants. On Sunday, Turkish and U.S. troops carried out their first joint military land patrol there.
Turkey, which labels the YPG a terrorist organization, wants the operations to expand rapidly as far as 20 miles (32 km) from its border to create a zone controlled by Turkish troops.
Cavusoglu said Turkey wanted to work with the United States but was growing impatient. "Yes, there are some joint patrols but other than that, the steps that have been taken or the steps that are said to be taken are cosmetic steps,” he told reporters.
"We are seeing that the United States is entering a stalling process...and that it is trying to get Turkey accustomed to this stalling process,” he said in Ankara, adding Washington’s approach has so far served the YPG more than Turkey.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey cannot handle a new wave of migrants from northern Syria, adding that Ankara and Washington needed to establish the "safe zone” in the region as soon as possible.