US, Turkey consider imposition of Syria no-fly zone

Saturday 11 August 2012 15.02
Hilary Clinton has met with Turkish officials to discuss the Syria situation
Hilary Clinton has met with Turkish officials to discuss the Syria situation

The US and Turkey are considering imposing no-fly zones and other steps to help Syrian rebel forces as the conflict there deepens, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

Ms Clinton told reporters after meeting Turkish Foreign Minster Ahmet Davutoglu that Ankara and Washington needed to get into the details of operational planning on ways to assist the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

"Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play so we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that," she said.

Asked if such discussions included options such as imposing a no-fly zone over territory that Syrian rebels claim to control, Clinton indicated that was a possible option.

"The issues you posed within your question are exactly the ones the minister and I agreed need greater in-depth analysis," Ms Clinton answered, although she indicated no decisions were necessarily imminent.

"It is one thing to talk about all kinds of potential actions, but you cannot make reasoned decisions without doing intense analysis and operational planning," she said.

The imposition of no-fly zones by foreign powers were crucial in helping Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year. But until recently, the US and its European allies have expressed reluctance to take on an overt military role in Syria's 17-month-old conflict.

The rebels are believed to be getting arms from Saudi Arabia and Qatar but only non-lethal assistance from the US.

Mr Davutoglu, responding to a similar question, said it was time for outside powers to take decisive steps to resolve the humanitarian crisis in cities such as Aleppo, which is under daily Syrian government bombardment.

Fighting on border

Fighting broke out last night between Jordanian and Syrian forces in a border region between the two countries, according to reports.

A Syrian opposition activist who witnessed the fighting said armoured vehicles were involved in the clash in the Tel Shihab-Turra area, about 80km north of the Jordanian capital Amman, that occurred after Syrian refugees tried to cross into Jordan.

Jordanian troops have fired near the border in the past to stop Syrians from shooting at fleeing refugees.

Syria's long border with Jordan has been an escape route for opponents of Assad, including Prime Minister Riad Hijab who defected this week.

In Syria's largest city and commercial hub Aleppo, rebels fighting Assad's forces said they would hit back after losing ground under heavy bombardment. Residents in the city of 2.5 million have been fleeing in cars crammed with belongings.

Reuters journalists saw residents stream from Aleppo on Friday, seizing on a calm spell to pack vehicles with mattresses, fridges and toys.

Some Salaheddine residents slipped back into the shattered neighbourhood to try to salvage possessions, despite army snipers. Two civilians were hit by gunfire in nearby streets.

Keywords: hilary clinton

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