US rules out northern Syria buffer zone
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
AP photoThe U.S. has ruled out support for a buffer zone in northern Syria amid renewed fighting just across Turkey’s southern border, according to a U.S. State Department official.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said on June 30 the challenges facing Turkey on its southern borders are understandable but neither Washington nor a U.S.-led coalition which is conducting air strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets would currently be supportive of such a buffer zone.
“Nobody’s turning a blind eye to the challenge that they’re [Turkey] facing or the concerns that they have,” Kirby said, adding, “The Defense Department has made it clear that they don’t believe there’s a need for that [buffer zone] at this time and that the use of coalition military assets in trying to affect a zone like that would… entail an awful lot in terms of logistics, time, resources and effort.”
As the conflict between ISIL and Kurdish fighters in northern Syria has intensified, the Turkish armed forces have tightened security measures along the southern border.
The recent flow of tens of thousands of refugees into Turkey has also contributed to concerns by Ankara over the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) trying to create a de facto state across the border by enforcing demographic changes in northern Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made it clear last week Turkey would not allow a Kurdish state be established in the area.
“The interest by Turkey and Turkish leaders in a buffer zone, if you will, which may or may not include a no-fly zone, is something that they’ve made very clear over many, many months now,” Kirby said.
Still, he added, the idea of a buffer zone is very hypothetical at this point as no decisions have been made.
Ankara and Washington have been on different pages over Syria, as the U.S. wants to solely focus on fighting ISIL while the Turkish government has been calling on the international community to take step against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey has also suffered from the Syrian civil war by hosting more than two million refugees, costing the country $5.6 billion so far.