Turkey Joins the Anti-ISIS Coalition: Safe-Zone Plan Revisited

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Following months of negotiations with the United States and after a deadly terror attack that has claimed the lives of 31 Turkish citizens in July, Ankara stepped up its anti-terror operations and conducted airstrikes against ISIS for the first time. Ankara has since deepened its participation in the anti-ISIS coalition and agreed to allow the coalition aircraft to use the Incirlik airbase, which lies only 110 km from the Syrian border. In return, Ankara has sought Washington’s assistance for purging ISIS in areas near the Turkish border and asked for guarantees that these areas would not be occupied by the Syrian Kurdish PYD. Furthermore, the debates on establishing a safe-zone within Syrian territory have resurfaced, albeit with much dispute as to what the characteristics of such a zone would be. In light of previous EDAM discussion papers on the Syrian Civil War, this paper aims to discuss the political, technical, and military aspects of the establishment of a safe-zone near Turkish borders, and the respective challenges and risks associated with them.

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