The US-Turkish Joint Operations Center in Syria will be operational next week

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced Friday that the US-Turkish Joint Operations Center in Syria will be operational from next week.

“The Joint Operations Center will be fully operational next week”, said the minister in Sanliurfa (southeast), which he visited with the chief of staff to inspect the forces operating within the center.

“We’ve reached a general agreement on coordination and control of airspace, as well as on many issues”, he said, according to his ministry’s website.

“So far the timetable has been met with Washington, and we expect it to continue like this”.

Since Monday, a US delegation in Sanliurfa has been working on the center.

Under an agreement reached last week between Ankara and Washington at the end of difficult negotiations, the Joint Operations Center aims to prepare for a safe area in northern Syria.

The aim is to create a buffer zone between the Turkish border and areas controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the US-backed forces Ankara considers a “terrorist organization”.

Syrian Kurds, who played a key role in the war against ISIS, established an autonomous region in northeastern Syria.

But with the end of the war against the jihadists, the prospect of a US military withdrawal has raised Kurdish fears of a Turkish offensive long waved by Ankara.

Turkey has so far carried out two cross-border military operations in Syria in 2016 and 2018, and the second has seen Turkish troops and Syrian rebel fighters loyal to Ankara enter the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in the northwest.