Turkey’s Army Driving Deeper into Syria, Plans for Safe Zones

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Behind their dirt embankments on the frontier with Syria, Turkish soldiers take refuge from the scorching sun in the shade of pine trees. A pile of shells sits beside them on the road, ready for action.

The border they’re defending is effectively less of a border than it used to be, and the action is further away. That’s because Turkey’s army, since it crossed into Syria late last month to fight Islamic State and Kurdish militias, has driven the front line deep into the neighboring state. It now controls a 900 square-kilometer (350 square-mile) area inside Syria. And that’s just the start, judging by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments on Monday.

The Turkish leader outlined plans for a “safe zone” in Syria the size of the Grand Canyon, where rebels can be sheltered and trained, and refugees resettled. It could be the biggest military intervention in Turkey’s recent history, with all the attendant risks: casualties in the short term, and in the longer run an open-ended engagement in a conflict zone where actual and potential enemies abound.

Read more: Bloomberg