No proposal for buffer zone and no-fly zone, says Ankara

No proposal for buffer zone and no-fly zone, says Ankara

Emine Kart ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
No proposal for buffer zone and no-fly zone, says Ankara

French President Hollande (2nd L) poses with top officials of the SNC. AFP photo

Turkey has taken no initiative to establish protected buffer zones or no-fly zones over Syria, diplomatic sources said after the French president said discussions were underway with allies, including Turkey, on the possibility buffer zones.

“We are working ... [on] the initiative of buffer zones proposed by Turkey,” French President François Hollande said Aug. 27. “We are doing so in coordination with our closest partners.”

In Ankara, sources closely involved with the issue told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday that “no official proposal by any of the parties, including Turkey and France, for establishment of protected buffer zones or no-fly zones over Syria has been introduced yet.”

First idea from France
“Still, these issues have long been discussed as ideas since there is an obvious eventuality concerning the state of affairs in Syria,” the same sources, who requested anonymity, said.

“The idea was first floated by the French defense minister,” the sources noted, referring to the fact that French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian suggested on Aug. 23 that Western nations and allies could consider setting up a limited no-fly zone over part of Syria without a U.N. Security Council mandate. “The idea has always been there. But there is nothing new to say about the issue as of now,” the same sources said.

Hollande also said France would recognize a provisional government and warned of a foreign intervention if the regime uses chemical weapons.

“France will recognize the provisional government of the new Syria as soon as it is formed,” he said. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland did not endorse Hollande’s proposal for the fractured Syrian opposition to form a provisional government.

American officials called it premature to speak about a provisional government when Syria’s fractured opposition has not yet even agreed on a transition plan.

They cited persistent disagreements among the Syrian National Council and rival opposition groups, and between Syrian opposition figures campaigning outside the country and rebels fighting the al-Assad regime on the front line. “We’re nowhere near that yet,” a U.S. official said.