UNITED NATIONS, New York – The head of the United Nations dismissed the idea that the UN might participate in securing a proposed safe zone in northern Syria.
“We have not any plan for any deployment in Syria at the present moment,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday.
Washington and Ankara have suggested establishing a safe zone along the Turkey-Syria border to assuage Turkey’s security concerns. The proposal, while scant in detail, would be to create a 32-kilometre deep zone running the length of the border.
The area in question is home to major Kurdish urban centres, is administered by Kurdish parties, and secured by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey alleges is linked with the PKK.
US President Donald Trump and his team have been vague on what they envision for the safe zone.
The Kurdish-led forces
and political parties
have said they would welcome the creation of a safe zone, but insist they will not accept a Turkish role in the scheme, saying Turkey cannot be a force for peace in the region as it is an aggressor.
Instead, the Kurds want to see the international community take the lead on the safe zone – the UN, the global coalition against ISIS, or uninterested nations.
The issue has come to the fore as the US prepares to pull its troops out of Syria where they have been backing the war against ISIS and serving as a buffer between their Kurdish allies in the YPG and NATO partner Turkey, especially around Manbij. Turkey has threatened an assault on Manbij and eastward into Kurdish territory.
Washington has said it wants to make sure the YPG will be protected.
The Kurdish administration has initiated talks with Damascus to bring Syrian government troops to the area to protect against a Turkish offensive.
With reporting from Majeed Gly