American ally Erdogan calls for Syria no-fly zone
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a no-fly zone should be established over Syria, claiming that such a zone is required to protect part of the country from attacks by Syria’s air force.
“A no-fly zone must be declared and this no fly-zone must be secured,” Erdogan told reporters on Friday on his return from the 69th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Associated Press reported.
The Turkish president stated that he had discussed the issue with US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Erdogan went on to say that the no-fly zone should be set up on the Syrian side of the Turkish border, where a large number of Syrians have fled the foreign-sponsored militancy as refugees.
He also noted that the country’s parliament will decide in early October whether Ankara should join the US-led coalition against the ISIL terrorists, but he did not specify what steps the government will take.
On September 20, the ISIL terrorists released about 50 Turkish nationals they had taken hostage from the Turkish Consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul for more than three months. The move prompted the US to push Ankara to join the anti-ISIL campaign.
The US has extended its air operations that started in Iraq last month to Syria, with the support of Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The US and its Arab allies began pounding ISIL positions in Syria on Tuesday.
The Turkish government is accused of providing heavy logistical support for the ISIL terrorists. Since the start of the crisis in Syria in 2011, Turkey has reportedly allowed its borders to be used as a conduit for aid, weapons and militants heading to Syria.
Turkey has reportedly been the main entry point for foreign militants who seek to join the ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
More than 191,000 people have been killed in over three years of fighting in Syria, says the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), calling the figure a probable “underestimate of the real total number of people killed.”