DAMASCUS – Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that Turkish plans to invade northeastern Syria are rumors.
He said Ankara’s idea of establishing permanent patrol bases between the United States and Turkey in the northeast of the country is rumored, adding that the Arab Republic will defend its territorial sovereignty.
“This is just rumors, lies… it is our territory and we will defend our sovereignty,” Muallem said on Friday.
Muallem added that he discussed the issue with Russia and Iran, which are guarantor states of the Syrian ceasefire alongside Turkey, adding that the two countries maintain the territorial integrity of Syria.
When asked if he believes such military bases could be created, Muallem said it would be difficult to achieve on the ground.
“These are some dreams of Mr [President of Turkey Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, but on the ground this is very difficult to achieve,” the foreign minister argued.
In early September, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced plans to establish permanent US-Turkish bases in a safe zone east of Syria’s Euphrates River to patrol the region.
In August, the US and Turkey reached an agreement to create a safe zone along Syria’s border with Turkey and the establishment of a joint US-Turkey operations center to coordinate efforts.
Turkey regards the Kurdish militias operating in northern Syria as a threat to its security and wants to remove them from the region. Meanwhile, the US has supported such groups, including providing weapons to them.
The Syrian government has criticized the Turkey-US safe zone agreement, calling both countries occupiers as they operate in Syria without Damascus’s permission.
Earlier this month, US and Turkish troops on Sunday carried out the first joint ground patrol of the northern Syrian security zone, an international news agency reported.
Six Turkish-flagged vehicles have joined US-flagged cars in Syria, about 15 km east of the Turkish border town of Akcakale, east of the Euphrates, near the Syrian city of Tel Abyad, according to Anadolu.
Previously, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed his intention to establish, by the end of September, a “safe zone” in northeastern Syria along with the United States.
The Turkish leader said in early September that his country would not accept any delay in creating a “safe zone” in the Arab country and would set it up alone if negotiations with the US resulted in nothing.