By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - A safe zone in northeast Syria "that addresses the legitimate concerns of our NATO ally Turkey" will be implemented in stages following bilateral talks with the U.S., the Pentagon said Thursday.
Spokesman Sean Robertson told Anadolu Agency that following Wednesday's negotiations the U.S. is "prepared to begin implementing some activities rapidly as we continue discussions with Turkey."
That includes standing up of a join operations center in Turkey "to continue planning and implementation," Robertson said in an emailed statement that referred to the safe zone as a "sustainable security mechanism."
"The Department's mission in Syria remains the enduring defeat of ISIS," Robertson said, using another name for the Daesh terror group.
The State Department later said that while additional details need to be fleshed out "we are encouraged by the initial steps that came out of these talks."
"We look forward to continuing our work with our partners on this important matter to achieve peace and security in Northeast Syria," department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said earlier Thursday the talks with U.S. officials about the creation of a safe-zone in northern Syria is a “very good start.”
Cavusoglu warned Turkey will not allow efforts to establish a safe-zone stall like the Manbij roadmap in Syria.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province.
The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terror group in the U.S. and Turkey. Washington has partnered with the YPG-led SDF in the effort to secure Daesh's defeat in northeast Syria, which has strained relations with Ankara.
Stating that it was important for Turkey and the U.S. to act in coordination and bring stability to the region, Cavusoglu said Syrian refugees in Turkey and internally displaced persons (IDP) would return once the safe-zone was created.
Since the eruption of Syria's bloody conflict in 2011, Turkey followed an “open door” policy for Syrians fleeing the war. Today, Turkey hosts more than 3.6 million refugees.