Turkey has announced that it plans to launch an offensive in northeastern Syria, which has reportedly prompted the United States to push for peace talks before tensions are heightened even more between the two NATO allies.
The United States is pushing for one final attempt to keep Turkey out of Syria, after Turkish officials announced plans to invade Syria to remove US-backed Kurdish forces from the border between the two countries.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch a military offensive targeting Syria’s northern border, east of the Euphrates River. But the threats have been stalled by promises from the US to create a safe zone inside of Syria, which would force Kurdish troops away from the border.
While Turkey has already amassed tens of thousands of troops near the border, the US is pushing for a joint operation that would secure a strip of land south of the Syria-Turkey border that would be around 9 miles deep and 87 miles long.
Reports claim that a delegation from the US Department of Defense was sent to Ankara on Monday in an effort to calm tensions and prevent direct military action.
But Turkey has already rejected the proposal, arguing that the “safe zone” should be at least 20 miles deep, and Turkish forces should be allowed to control it alone, without the help of US troops.
Turkey has accused the US of delaying a final agreement regarding a “safe zone” because of its support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey has designated as a terrorist group.
The US has provided both financial and logistical help to the Kurds in Syria, which it considered one of its main allies in the fight against ISIS.
In response to the comments from Turkey, an unnamed US official said, “Bilateral discussions with Turkey continue on the possibility of a safe zone with U.S. and Turkish forces that addresses Turkey’s legitimate security concerns in northern Syria.”
Turkey’s threatened offensive comes weeks after the country began receiving shipments of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, in a deal that was sharply criticized by the US.
Now, it remains to be seen whether the US will be able to convince Turkey to stay out of Syria, as tensions continue to increase between the two NATO allies.