According to media reports, armed Turkish military vehicles crossed into northeast Syria on Sunday to begin planned joint US-Turkey patrols.
The Turkish and US armed forces have started their joint patrols in a safe zone in Northeastern Syria, the Turkish Defence Ministry announced on Sunday.
“As a part of efforts to create a safe zone in the north of Syria to the east of the Euphrates, the Turkish and US military have started joint ground patrols using transport vehicles and drones to the south of Akcakale, on the Syrian side,” the Defence Ministry said.
The ministry added that six Turkish armored vehicles also participated in patrols.
Syria condemns joint US-Turkish patrols in border strip in northeast Syria and says it is “flagrant violation” of country’s sovereignty, according to an official statment.
Damascus believes that “this step is an aggression and is aimed at prolonging the crisis in Syria,” the Syrian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed his intention to establish a ‘safe zone’ in northeast Syria together with the United States by the end of September.
Erdogan said last week that his country would not stand any delays in creating a “safe zone” in Syria and would establish it alone if talks with the US fail to produce results.
In August, Ankara and Washington agreed to create a safe zone to the east of the Euphrates River that would serve as a buffer zone between the Turkish border and Syrian areas controlled by US-backed Kurdish militias, which Turkey considers to be terrorists.
The Syrian government has opposed the US-Turkish agreement, labeling it as a violation of both Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as a violation of international law.
However, according to the leader of the Turkish Vatan political party, Turkey’s creation of a safe zone to the east of Euphrates is a tactical manoeuvre to make the United States stop supporting the Kurds.
Tensions between Ankara and the Kurds escalated in July 2015 when a ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed over a series of attacks allegedly committed by the PKK militants.