Speaking to Reuters today, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed that talks with the US on plans for a “safe zone” carved out of northern Syria were completed over the weekend, and that the two nations will soon launch a “comprehensive” air war to drive ISIS out of that territory.
The Pentagon confirmed that the two sides held talks on Sunday on the details of the plan, and Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the US is “looking forward” to Turkey’s involvement in the war against ISIS. Cavusoglu insisted that destroying ISIS would also mean imposing regime change inside Syria.
Turkey officially “joined” the ISIS war last month, and has been talking up the safe zone ever since. Turkey clashed with ISIS for two days in late July and that was basically it, with their entire military effort since then centering on fighting against Kurdish factions, both in Iraq and SE Turkey. US officials have expressed annoyance at this, believing Turkey’s support for the ISIS war was primarily a tool to get the US to acquiesce on the war on Kurds.
A solid month of talks on the “safe zone” hasn’t yielded much public understanding of what is even being proposed, with talks of a 50-60 mile long zone somewhere on the Turkish border, and a lot of concern from Kurdish factions that it will be carved more out of their territory than it will be out of ISIS’.
Cavusoglu’s announcement itself offered no real timeline or any new details on the plan, and may be most significant for all the things it didn’t say, instead of the limited things it actually did say.