Turkey-Syria offensive: What are ‘safe zones’ and do they work?

Media captionThe BBC’s Martin Patience explains what’s behind Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria

Russian and Turkish troops have begun patrolling what Turkey says is a “safe zone” in north-east Syria.

The Turkish plan is designed in part to house Syrian refugees in a secure area along its border with Syria, as well as to keep it free from Kurdish fighters it regards as terrorists.

The concept seems simple, in theory. But in practice – as conflicts from Bosnia and Rwanda to Iraq and Sri Lanka have shown – making safe zones work is more difficult.

What’s happening in north-east Syria?

The abrupt withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria last month opened the way for Turkey to launch an offensive across the border.

After days of clashes with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Turkey agreed to pause for Kurdish fighters to withdraw beyond a range of 30km (18 miles).

Under a new set-up agreed between Turkey and Russia (the main power-broker in Syria), the resulting “safe zone” is to be patrolled by Russian and allied Syrian forces on either side of a stretch held by Turkey and Turkish-backed rebels.

US President Donald Trump hailed the deal as a “big success”, while Germany has floated the idea of using UN troops…

Continue Reading This Article At BBC News


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