Turkey plans ‘Isil-free zone’ in northern Syria – Telegraph.co.uk

“When areas in northern Syria are cleared of the (Isil) threat, the safe zones will be formed naturally,” the foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said in response to questions about the newspaper reports.

“We have always defended safe zones and no-fly zones in Syria. People who have been displaced can be placed in those safe zones.”

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In an article in the pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper, a senior policy advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, said the need for a safe zone sprang from the failure of the western world to deal with the Assad regime and its destruction of Syria.

“The recent events confirm once again the importance of Turkey’s call for creating a safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border with air cover and protection for Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other moderate opposition forces fighting against the Assad regime on the one hand, and ISIS on the other,” he wrote.

“All other options, flawed by a short-sided perspective and lack of political leadership, have made ISIS a more potent and dangerous terrorist force.”

The current crisis began on Monday when a suicide bomber, believed to be sent by Isil, blew himself up at a pro-Kurd cultural centre in the Turkish town of Suruc, killing 32 youth activists who were intending to ferry aid to the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Kobane six miles away across the border.

Kurds immediately rounded on the Turkish government, blaming its laxity in patrolling the border with Syria, a policy connected to the Erdogan government’s support for the armed opposition to the Assad regime.

In retaliation, the PKK claimed responsibility for a series of attacks which killed three policemen in separate incidents.

In a further clash, Turkish troops and Isil fighters exchanged fire over the border on Thursday.

In response, the Turkish authorities have rounded up hundreds of what it calls militants from both organisations – even though the PKK’s affiliate in Syria, the PYD, is fighting the bitterest battles of the whole conflict against Isil, including for Kobane.

“Though acting with different motivations, the two share similar tactics and goals,” Mr Kalin, the presidential adviser, said of Isil and the PKK. “The PKK is using the war in that country (Syria) and the international fight against Isil as a pretext to claim political and military space.”

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