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POLITICS > Turkey, US officials in first operational meeting on Syria

ANKARA - Agence France- Presse

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Turkish and US officials Thursday began their first "operational planning" meeting aimed at bringing about the end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime.
 
The meeting is expected to coordinate military, intelligence and political responses to the crisis in Syria where a deadly crackdown on peaceful protests that began in March 2011 has according to activists claimed more than 23,000 lives.
 
The officials are also due to discuss contingency plans in the case of potential threats including a chemical attack by Assad's regime which Washington has said would be a "red line".
 
Turkish foreign ministry deputy under-secretary Halit Çevik and US ambassador Elisabeth Jones are leading the delegations made up of intelligence agents, military officials and diplomats at the Ankara meeting, a foreign ministry source told AFP.
 
The meeting began at 0800 GMT and it was not immediately clear if a press statement would be issued after the closed-door talks.
 
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had announced their plans for such a mechanism to hasten the end of President Bashar al-Assad's regime on August 11.

Thursday's meeting come just days after US President Barack Obama warned Syria that any movement or usage of its chemical weapons would be a "red line" that would change his perspective on how to respond to the conflict.
 
A chemical attack would also trigger a refugee influx to neighbouring countries including Turkey which is already hosting more than 70,000 Syrians.

On Monday, Davutoğlu said Turkey can handle no more than 100,000 Syrian refugees and has proposed setting up a UN buffer zone inside Syria to shelter them.
 
The growing flow of refugees amid fierce fighting in the northern city of Aleppo between regime forces and rebels has raised fears of a repeat of the 1991 Gulf War, when half a million Iraqi Kurds massed along the common border.
 
The UN Security Council will debate the humanitarian situation and the refugee crisis in Syria on August 30 at a ministerial level meeting.
 
UN emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos said Wednesday however that despite the increasingly precarious humanitarian situation, UN Security Council divisions would prevent the creation of any safe havens in Syria.
 
The Security Council has failed to act decisively to try to end the Syrian conflict, hampered by rifts between the West and Syria's traditional allies China and Russia, particularly over Assad's fate.
 
The threat of armed groups including the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Al-Qaeda which could exploit a power vacuum in Syria is also expected to figure high on the agenda of the Ankara meeting.
 
In Istanbul, Clinton had said she shared "Turkey's determination that Syria must not become a haven for PKK terrorists whether now or after the departure of the Assad regime."

August/23/2012

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HAYATTE abid

8/23/2012 11:08:33 PM

@eyal eyal. Look to me the fsa is going to be finished by the syrian army. Sad turkish have to suffer because of this government.

bilz zaka

8/23/2012 5:10:06 PM

Said Attaturk fighting to Turks who were fighting Then united Allied US EU army who were trying to Capture Constantinople:"United we stand, and thereby, I command you to Die for Turkey".What binds people before EU alliance ,NATo alliance or religion alliance is the same thing.Consequent First number rule of even alliance to God.Rule of Alliance is to prevent Divided we fall.Some times ,it is said ,half a doctor or little learned could be a Dangerous thing,Is Allied using Divide and Rule ?

Eyal Eyal

8/23/2012 4:24:09 PM

Looks to me like the FSA is going to finish Assad army very soon without your help, Thank you very much.

Brazilian Reader

8/23/2012 4:10:14 PM

"their first operational planning meeting"... really the first!

Ryan James

8/23/2012 4:00:46 PM

What a crew!

Shah Hamdan

8/23/2012 3:32:49 PM

America is trying to push Turkey into a death trap. If they are proposing to send Turkish army into Syria then this war will be in Turkey not in Syria. I hope Turkish officials will not take bait to commit suicide.
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