Turkey does not rule out protecting buffer zone in Syria


From Daniel Dombey, the Financial Times:  Turkey has signalled possible support for a buffer zone to protect Syrian civilians if Damascus continues its crackdown on democracy protests, as tensions rise between the two former strategic partners.

Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, told the Financial Times that Ankara was preparing targeted sanctions against Damascus and left the door open for more drastic steps at a later date, such as a buffer zone or a no fly-zone on Syrian territory.

“The Syrian regime is attacking the Syrian people, which is unacceptable,” Mr Davutoglu said in an interview. “When we see such an event next door to us of course we will never be silent.”

When asked about Turkey’s stance on a buffer zone or a no-fly zone, he said: “We hope that there will be no need for these type of measures but of course humanitarian issues are important…There are certain universal values all of us need to respect and protecting citizens is the responsibility of every state.”

His comments are an indication of the growing pressure Turkey is putting on Syria, on the rhetorical level at least, to halt the crackdown.

By contrast, in August Turkish officials rejected reports they were planning to impose a buffer zone, while Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato’s secretary general, dismissed the idea of a no-fly zone this week. . . .

Although in the interview Mr Davutoglu denied claims that Turkey allowed armed Syrian rebels to operate from its territory, last week he became one of the first international officials to meet leaders of the Istanbul-based opposition Syrian national council.    (photo: Reuters)

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