ANKARA: Turkish president renewed his previous calls for creating a no-fly zone in Syria just as the US president has called for safe zones in the Arab country.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said safe zones with a no-fly condition should be created inside Syrian territory allegedly to accommodate refugees.
Erdogan said in a televised speech in Bahrain on Monday that Turkey seeks to set up the safe zone in thousands of square kilometers in northern Syria where the Turkish army has a military presence.
“Our objective here is (to establish) an area of at least 4,000, 5,000 square kilometers free from terrorism, to create a safe zone,” Erdogan said, echoing similar remarks in the past that the zone would alleviate the burden of accommodating Syrian refugees. The Turkish president added that the area would also require a “no-fly” zone.
Turkish military’s incursion into Syrian territory began despite objections from Damascus that saw it a breach of its territorial integrity. Ankara claimed to be fighting ISIS terrorists in the Arab country, however calls for creating no-fly zone seem contradictory to such claims at a time when the Syrian army is making great progress on the field and terrorists’ days are counting.
The Turkish military and allied militants managed to seize control of the city of Jarablus in early weeks of the operation and the battle continues now to retake the town of al-Bab.
Erdogan said Sunday that the full recapture of al-Bab was now a “matter of time.” Reports said Turkish troops and allied militants had reached the center of the town and they were pushing ahead into other neighborhoods. Turkey has suffered an unknown number of casualties in the operation in al-Bab over the past weeks.