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Turkey to create ’safe zones’ in Kurdish-held Syrian areas

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president says Ankara will take steps to create “safe zones” across northern Syria, including in areas held by Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke from New York late Sunday, vowing to clear the region of a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara considers to be a terror group and part of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

Erdogan was quoted by the Demiroren news agency as saying those zones would extend east of the Euphrates River.

Turkey conducted two cross-border operations in 2016 and 2018 west of the Euphrates to drive out the Islamic State group and also the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units.

Erdogan said Turkey promised northern Syria wouldn’t be a “terror corridor” and slammed the U.S. for backing the Syrian Kurdish forces.