Turkish, U.S. army chiefs discuss planned Syrian safe zone at NATO summit

Turkey’s Chief of Staff Yaşar Güler and his U.S. counterpart Joseph Dunford on Saturday discussed a planned safe zone in northeast Syria on the sidelines of a NATO conference in Slovenia, the Turkish defence ministry said.

Güler and Dunford held a bilateral meeting at NATO Military Committee Conference and the Turkish chief of staff shared Ankara's expectations on the planned safe zone, the defence ministry statement said.

The United States and Turkey last month agreed to establish a safe zone in northeast Syria to address Ankara’s security concerns about the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), which have been key to the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State. 

Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for more than 30 years, and has repeatedly threatened to invade the area if the United States is unable to agree to its terms on the safe zone. 

Despite the deal, there are still disagreements between the two allies over several issues about the safe zone, notably the depth of the safe zone and the fate of YPG in the region.