Politics, World

No safe zone agreement yet, Kerry says

U.S. Secretary of State says despite a lot of talks on a "safe zone," it is premature to suggest a decision has been reached.

No safe zone agreement yet, Kerry says

By M. Bilal Kenasari


Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that there has not yet been any decision to move forward with any form of a safe zone for Syrian refugees.

"There’s a lot of discussion going on about the way we will go forward. But it is premature to suggest at this moment of time that we are close to making a decision or moving forward with any form of a safe zone or a buffer zone at this moment in time,” he said at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Almost one year since ISIL took control of areas in Iraq and Syria, politicians and diplomats from more than 60 counties and international organizations met in Brussels to discuss the strategy against the terror group.

Kerry’s comments appear to be another attempt this week by the Obama administration to make clear its position regarding a buffer zone thath as been pushed by Turkey.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the U.S. and Turkey have come close to an agreement on using the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, and other airbases, to patrol a zone in Syrian alongside Turkish border, which would be off limits to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime’s forces. 

Bloomberg news also claimed that the U.S. envoy leading the anti-ISIL coalition, Gen. John Allen, negotiated an "air-exclusion zone" inside Syria along the Turkish border that would be protected against ISIL and Assad forces

Following the reports, the administration seemed to fumble its response with different officials issuing contradictory statements.

"On the issue of no-fly zone and so forth, the United States remains extremely engaged in its discussions with Turkey,” Kerry said. "We are continuing our discussions with our Turkish allies in order to have conversations about how we best bolster security in the region and deal with the problem of Syria," he said.

The Turkish government insists on the establishment of a no-fly zone to halt attacks by the Assad regime on Syrian opposition forces. Turkey also wants to establish a safe haven near the Turkey-Syrian border for refugees fleeing ISIL attacks in Syria.

A US-led airstrike campaign was launched Aug. 9 against ISIL targets in Iraq, with the support of France, the U.K. and Belgium, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


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