While al-Qaeda officials in Syria are complaining bitterly about the planned US-Turkey “safe zone” in northern Syria, saying they believe it is all about Turkish interests and has nothing to do with the Syrian Civil War, they appear willing to play ball, and have withdrawn from the area without contesting it.
Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front says they believe the primary goal of the “safe zone” is to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria, but they insist they had “no choice” but to give up part of their territory when Turkey singled it out for takeover.
Interestingly, Turkey has not publicly said where they intend the zone to be, and it is somewhat surprising it is so far west as to encompass any of al-Qaeda’s holdings along the border. This does, however, suggest it will barely touch ISIS territory at all, as the US has described the area as being 60 miles long along the border.
Al-Qaeda’s willing cooperation will likely add to Syrian government complaints that Turkey has been backing them heavily, and indeed a desire by al-Qaeda to keep Turkey on their side is about the only plausible reason why the takeover of any of their territory is going so well.