Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Sources: Proposal to Deploy 10,000 Arab, Kurdish Fighters in East Syria

Sources: Proposal to Deploy 10,000 Arab, Kurdish Fighters in East Syria

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 06:45
Pro-Turkey Syrian fighters and Turkish troops secure the Bursayah Hill which separates Afrin from Azaz. (AP)

Head of Syria's Tomorrow Movement, Ahmad Jarba proposed to American and Turkish officials and Kurdistan Region leader Masoud Barzani the deployment of 10,000 Arab and Kurdish fighters in the safe zone in northeastern Syria, western diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday.

Washington and Ankara are working on the final touches to a plan to establish a safe zone, 28 to 32 kilometers deep between Jarablus, in northern Aleppo, and Feysh Khabur, near the Iraqi border, following the withdrawal of US troops from east of the Euphrates River.

Turkey has demanded that the zone be clear of US military bases and heavy weapons. It has also called for the withdrawal of around 7,000 fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it considers terrorist.

According to the sources, US and Turkish officials and Barzani welcomed Jarba’s proposal to deploy between 8,000 to 12,000 fighters from his “elite forces” and from the Peshmerga, which includes Kurdish and Syrian fighters trained in the Kurdistan Region.

“The proposal aims to fill the void and to meet the interests of several local, Arab and international parties,” the diplomatic sources said.

The proposal also stipulates providing US air support from the Ain Al-Assad air base in Iraq's Anbar province and from the Tanf base in southeast Syria.

However, YPG leaders doubted the possibility that such a proposal could be implemented.

They have instead continued their talks with Moscow and Damascus to reach arrangements following the US withdrawal from the area.

For its part, Russia suggested activating the 1998 Adana Treaty to ensure the security of Turkey and Syria’s borders and the territorial integrity of their states by achieving a full-scale cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

The Adana agreement was signed by Syria and Turkey on October 20, 1998, and aimed to restore bilateral relations, allowing Turkey to perform operations against terrorists on the border.

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