Berlin, OCT 22 (AP/UNB) — Germany's defense minister proposed Tuesday the establishment of an internationally controlled security zone in Syria, hours before a five-day cease-fire between Turkish troops and Syrian Kurdish fighters was set to expire in the war-torn country.
The proposal comes as Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters invaded northern Syria earlier this month, after President Donald Trump pulled back American troops who had partnered with Syrian Kurdish forces in the years-long war against the Islamic State group.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German news agency dpa that "the creation of an internationally controlled security zone with the inclusion of Turkey and Russia" would have the goal of deescalating the situation in northern Syria.
The German parliament would need to decide on whether German troops could participate in such a zone, Kramp-Karrenbauer said. She also told broadcaster Deutsche Welle that Chancellor Angela Merkel had been informed of the proposal.
The situation in northern Syria has been relatively calm over the past few days despite sporadic violations of the five-day cease fire that went into effect on Thursday night under an agreement made by the U.S. and Turkey. Turkey expects the Syrian Kurdish fighters to pull back from a border area.
Kurdish fighters have pulled out from the town of Ras al-Ayn that witnessed some of the worst fighting after Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters launched the invasion on Oct. 9.
Although Turkish officials say the cease-fire agreement specifically covers a roughly 120-kilometer (75 mile) stretch between the Syrian border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, and extends 30 kilometers into Syria, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made clear he wants Turkish military presence along the full stretch of the border from the Euphrates River to Syria's border with Iraq.
Syrian state media reported Tuesday that government forces have entered new areas in the northeastern province of Hassakeh as part of an agreement they reached with the main Syrian Kurdish group in the area after Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria, essentially abandoning the Kurdish allies in the fight against IS.
The areas that the Syrian government and the Kurds agreed that the government would enter are outside the cease-fire agreement reached between the U.S. and Turkey.