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Turkey wants safe zone, but can it maintain one?

The US president is listening to Turkey’s continuing calls for a "safe zone" in northern Syria, but resistance to it is still strong, as all is not quiet in the areas already under Turkish control.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his government’s intention to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria that would be “expunged of terror” and where “our Arab and Turkmen brothers will find the opportunity to resettle.” Speaking at a news conference during an official visit to Bahrain, Erdogan explained that Turkey’s goal was to establish a zone that would cover up to 5,000 square kilometers (3,000 square miles), and he urged the US-led coalition to “act in concert with Turkey” in a planned offensive against Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State (IS).

US President Donald Trump has also raised the possibility of establishing a safe zone in Syria and tasked the Pentagon with coming up with plans for one. Russia remains firmly opposed to the concept, however, especially one along the Turkish border, where opposition rebels could potentially regroup and relaunch their fight to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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