Clinton eyes ‘negotiated’ Syria no-fly zone
LAS VEGASWhite House frontrunner Hillary Clinton stood behind her pledge to create a no-fly zone in Syria Oct. 19, but said it would have to be negotiated rather than imposed.
Acknowledging “legitimate concerns” about sparking a conflict with the Syrian regime or its Russian backer - which has advanced weapons systems on the ground, Clinton said talks would be needed.
“I think a no-fly zone could save lives and hasten the end of the conflict,” Clinton said in the final presidential debate of 2016.
“This would take a lot of negotiation and it would also take making it clear to the Syrians and Russians that our purpose is to provide safe zones on the ground.”
Moscow has shown little sign of voluntarily agreeing to ground its own planes or those of the Syrian regime, raising questions about how Clinton would achieve her goal.
Clinton’s remarks are in line with Turkey’s demands, which has long argued for the need for a “no-fly” or “safe zone” zone along its Syrian border, with the aim of clearing Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants from the border and stemming a wave of migration that has fuelled tensions in Europe.
But Western allies have so far balked at the idea, saying it would require a significant ground force and planes to patrol, marking a major commitment in such a crowded battlefield.
U.S. President Barack Obama and top generals have shied away from a policing role in Syria’s skies, a move supporters say would stop indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Aleppo and other cities.
Imposing a no-fly zone of the sort introduced in northern and southern Iraq after the first Gulf War would require neutralizing Syria’s air defense systems.
Russia has deployed the sophisticated S-300 ground-to-air defense system in the war-wracked country, making that prospect much tougher.