If there is stalling or a delay in the process to set up a safe zone in northern Syria, Turkey is ready to single-handedly take the reins, Turkey's defense minister Hulusi Akar said Wednesday.
"We made our preparations. When necessary, we can take matters into our own hands," Hulusi Akar said at an opening ceremony for the fall term of Istanbul's National Defense University.
"We find it necessary to establish a safe zone, a peace corridor, free of heavy weapons and terrorists along the border some 30-40 kilometers deep into Syria, east of the Euphrates River," said Akar.
The 30-kilometer-wide area includes the settlements of Jarabulus, Manbij, Ayn al-Arab (Kobani), Tal Abyad, Suluk, Ras al-Ayn, Darbasiyah, Amude, Qamishli and al-Malikiyah, the Turkish daily reported.
The settlements -- except for Jarabulus, which was cleared of terrorists by Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016-2017 -- are currently occupied by Kurdish Militia (YPG) / Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), according to Turkish media.
The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the E.U. and the U.S. YPG is the PKK's Syrian branch.
The Turkish Daily News said since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.
Commenting on the Turkish plan, the Jerusalem Post wrote: If Turkey succeeds it will have created one of the most lavish housing projects in the Middle East, with more modern facilities than people enjoy per capita anywhere else in the region, making northeast Syria one of the wealthiest and most well organized centers of the region. Potentially this will mean most Syrians from all over Syria, a country devastated by war where 500,000 have been killed and millions displaced, will all want to flock to the new housing projects.
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