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Turkish-US ground patrols of Syria safe zone to start Sunday

In this Aug. 22, 2019 photo, provided by the U.S. Army, shows A U.S. service member watches as Syrian Democratic Forces remove military fortifications during the implementation of the security mechanism along the Turkey-Syria border in northeast Syria. Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the executive committee of the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Council said Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, that the creation of a so-called “safe zone” in northeastern Syria is off to good start, with U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces pulling back from an initial part of the border with Turkey, but calm can only prevail if Turkey also removes its troops.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's defense minister says Turkish and U.S. troops will begin joint ground patrols of a planned so-called safe zone in northern Syria on Sunday.

Hulusi Akar made the comments to reporters on Friday.

Turkey has been pressing for the creation of a safe zone that would keep U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, considered terrorists by Turkey, away from its border. Turkey also says some Syrian refugees could be resettled in the zone.

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Turkey and the U.S. have carried out joint helicopter patrols.

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On Thursday, Turkey warned that it could "open its gates" and allow Syrian refugees in the country to move toward Western countries if a safe zone is not created and Turkey is left to shoulder the refugee burden alone. Turkey hosts 3.6 million refugees from Syria.

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