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Proposed Buffer Zones in Syria (TodaysZaman)
Proposed Buffer Zones in Syria (TodaysZaman)

Reports: Syria agrees to “Buffer Zone” on Turkish border

(Omar al-Shaar | Dp-news)
Syria/Turkey- Turkish media says deal struck in wake of this week's deadly border shelling incident which killed five Turkish civilians, The Guardian reported Friday.

Syria has agreed to keep its forces six miles (10km) back from the Turkish border in the wake of this week's deadly shelling incident, Turkish media has reported.

The Guardian indicated that such a move would amount to a buffer zone – fulfilling a long-standing request by Syrian opposition groups that would allow rebels to operate freely and civilians to seek refuge.

According to the Guardian, Syria has not confirmed the claim and Ankara has made no official announcement. However, several Turkish media outlets, citing well-placed sources, claimed a deal had been struck.

Turkey's ntvmsnbc.com news portal claimed, citing “reliable sources,” that the Syrian regime had ordered all kinds of military aircraft, including warplanes and helicopters, to stay at least 10 kilometers from the Turkish border. The report also said a number of Syrian warplanes which approached within 10 kilometers of the Turkish border despite this warning had been ordered to turn back immediately by Syrian authorities.

 

According to ntvmsnbc's report, Syria had ascertained that the Turkish artillery fire had killed 10 Syrian soldiers and damaged three tanks and two armored vehicles.


Earlier on August, Turkish sources emphasized that Turkey has already started to prepare for such a safe haven. “Turkey would not send the army to Syria in order to create a safe haven but would rather create it near the Syrian border,” sources said.

Considering geographic conditions and settlements, the border for the safe haven might be drawn inside Syria or in areas on the Turkish side, argue experts.

Syrian opposition groups have implored Turkey and the international community to establish an area in which they can move without fear of jets and helicopters, claiming it would be a significant step in their 19-month battle to oust the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Since then; the demands have been rejected by Ankara, as well as the US and NATO, who have all repeatedly baulked at suggestions that they directly intervene in the conflict.

Political analysts said earlier that buffer zones would not be effective unless it was enforced militarily, something that Turkey has so far been unwilling to do. However, the Syrian shelling of the Turkish border town of Akcacle has sparked Ankara to re-calibrate its military options to deal with the gathering crisis across its southern border.

Turkey’s state-run news agency also said Friday that Turkish troops have returned fire after a mortar shell from Syria again landed on its territory.

The Anadolu Agency quoted the governor for Hatay province as saying that Turkish troops ‘‘responded with fire’’ after the mortar round landed in a rural area of the province that borders Syria. No one was reported hurt.

Turkey's artillery pounded targets inside Syria for two days in retaliation for the killings. Although both Damascus and Ankara moved Thursday to calm tensions, the parliament's approval of the cross border operations made it clear that Turkey is retaining a military option if threatened.

Turkey’s parliament on Thursday also voted to allow cross border military operations in Syria.

Turkey shares a 900-kilometer border with Syria. It has allowed thousands of Syrian gunmen to take shelter and regroup on its soil.

Damascus has been grappling with year& half-long unrest that has claimed thousands of lives; including those of its security forces. The opposition blames the deaths on the government, but Damascus regime holds foreign-backed armed gangs responsible.
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