The need for a Syria safe zone explained

Turkey has for years insisted that there should be a peace corridor to resettle Syrians who have been displaced by the conflict.

The years-long Syrian conflict has resulted in the death of half a million people and forced millions more to flee the country.

As major world powers, including the United States and Russia, took different sides in the bloody civil war, Turkey was left to deal with an influx of 3.5 million Syrian refugees and the ever-present threat from terrorists on its border.

So far Turkey has spent around $40 billion on the housing and welfare of Syrians while it has received only a minuscule portion of the promised monetary support from the international community.

At the same time, Turkey has fought terrorist groups such as Daesh, which unleashed deadly attacks inside Turkey three years ago.

Ankara also had to worry about the YPG, the Syrian branch of PKK, a terrorist group that has killed tens of thousands of people in the last three decades.

The YPG, a Marxist group, views itself as a representative of the Kurds living in Syria. It has received support including arms from the United States on the pretext that it fights Daesh.

But the YPG has captured Arab-majority areas such as the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and ruled the locals with an iron fist often forcing children to join its ranks.

The implementation

For four years, Turkey has been pushing the idea of establishing an area inside Syria where refugees can be resettled. Now it looks like it will finally move ahead with a plan to implement it.

The United States announced this Sunday that it is pulling its soldiers out from the areas which come under the proposed safe zone, opening up the path for the Turkish troops to push YPG terrorists out from northern Syria.

The 480-kilometre long safe zone extends along the Syrian border all the way to the Syrian border with Iraq. The area that extends 30km inside Syria is where Ankara wants to build homes and farms for its potential residents.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly last month, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said many Syrians from other countries can be settled if the safe zone is expanded and the international community comes forward with financial assistance.

Turkey has already conducted two operations in northwestern Syria, killing thousands of Daesh fighters and helping locals return home.

However, there have been concerns that the settlement of Syrian Arabs in a safe zone could lead to a demographic shift in the Kurdish parts within the designated zone.

But Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish presidential spokesman, rubbished the claims in an interview with CNN. We are not attacking the Kurds, he said.

It is the YPG which had taken over Arab towns forcibly, he said.

Source: TRT World