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US planning to establish safe zone in northern Syria: Pompeo

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The US is planning to set up a safe zone in northern Syria to avoid further tension in the region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas following their meeting in Berlin, Pompeo underlined that the US would continue to support UN efforts for a political solution in Syria and continue its efforts to reduce the risk of violence.

“You’ve seen the work that we have done with the Turks in Manbij, west of the Euphrates River,” Pompeo said, referring to joint patrols by US and Turkish troops in the area.

“And we are attempting to set up a system that can add to that. Call it a buffer zone, call it what you will. … That will reduce the risk of terrorists attacking Turkey from Syria,” he said.

Asked about local media reports that claimed the US administration was seeking military support from Germany and other allies for setting up such a safe zone, Pompeo confirmed that talks were underway between the partners.

“We’ve committed our forces there … and we’ve asked our European partners to assist us. As we develop the plans, we’ll see what the force requirements would actually look like,” he said.

Pompeo underlined that the planned safe zone is also intended to prevent further tensions between Turkey and the US-backed groups in the area.

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