Turkish and U.S. military delegations Wednesday visited the joint operations center in the Akçakale district of southeastern Turkey's Şanlıurfa as part of an ongoing effort to establish a safe zone in northern Syria, a Turkish newspaper reported.
They also inspected the Syrian border, after holding a meeting with the General Staff the previous day, the Turkish newspaper added.
The U.S. delegation, headed by Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty and Deputy Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson, visited the center which began operations on Aug. 12, according to the newspaper.
U.S.-Turkey cooperation has recently intensified after the two countries agreed on establishing the safe zone on Aug. 7.
"Turkey aims to create a stable living space for Syrian refugees, who fled their country due to the ongoing civil war, and halt further refugee influx on the other side of the border," Nurşin Ateşoğlu Güney, an academic from Bahçeşehir University, said at a panel Monday.
Turkish officials have frequently said another refugee wave was quite possible due to the continuous regime attacks, particularly in northwestern Syria's Idlib.
The safe zone agreement also envisaged setting up necessary security measures to address Turkey's security concerns, including clearing the zone of People's Protection Units (YPG), a group the U.S. has sometimes been allied with, over Turkey's objections.
Despite the earlier agreement, Turkey and the U.S. are not totally on the same page according to the statements by top Turkish officials.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said Turkey could launch its own operation soon if the U.S. did not take any concrete steps by late September.
Source: Daily Sabah.