BEIRUT: The US-led coalition and Turkey conducted their third joint patrol in northeastern Syria on Friday, part of a plan designed to defuse tensions between Washingtons two allies — Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.

The patrol followed a telephone call late on Thursday between Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper during which Akar reiterated that Turkey wont accept a delay in the creation of what it calls a safe zone and would act alone if necessary to set it up.

Akar also told Esper that Turkey would end the joint patrols if there are distractions, delays and urged the US to end its support to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Ankara views Syrian Kurdish fighters as an extension of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey and wants them away from the Turkey-Syria border. It has repeatedly threatened to carry out a military operation to push the Kurds away.

Turkey had carried out military incursions with allied Syrian groups in western Syria to drive out Kurdish fighters, as well as Islamic State militants, and has stationed troops there.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2019