Turkey, U.S. 'Getting Closer' on Issue of Syria Safe Zone as Violence Intensifies

Turkey wants to set up a safe zone east of the Euphrates river after the majority of U.S. troops pull out of the country

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, talks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, as they tour the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
,AP

Turkey and the United States are getting closer to an agreement on the details of a planned safe zone in northeast Syria along the Turkish border, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.

Cavusoglu was responding to a question at a news conference about Turkish talks this week with the U.S. special envoy for Syria. Turkey wants to set up a safe zone east of the Euphrates river after the majority of U.S. troops pull out of the country.

Russian and Syrian forces intensified air strikes and shelling in northwestern Syria overnight in the heaviest assault on the last rebel-held area since it was declared a demilitarised zone under a Russian-Turkish deal, sources said on Thursday.

The targeted villages and towns in northern Hama and southern Idlib fall within a buffer zone agreed last September between Russia and Turkey as part of a deal which averted a major offensive on the area.

Earlier this week Washington warned violence in the buffer zone "will result in the destabilization of the region".