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Turkey makes case for buffer zone in Syria with dim hopes of success

(Xinhua)

07:55, October 22, 2012

ANKARA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Overburdened with a swelling refugee crisis from Syria and alarmed by a rising terror threat, Turkey is pushing for an establishment of a buffer zone within Syrian territory to create a safety enclave for the civilians fleeing the conflict areas as well as to put an effective fight against terrorists.

On Thursday, Turkey's National Security Council MGK, which brings together top civilian and military officials, vowed determination and strong will to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity amid increasing terrorist activity and escalating tension along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The country, home to over 100,000 Syrian refugees, has been embracing for much more before the harsh winter sets in in the region. Yet, the lack of will on the part of the international community or in the region for that matter, for creating such zones in Syria has thwarted Turkish efforts to obtain a mandate from the UN Security Council resolution.

"Turkey, as a frontline country in this crisis, has some good arguments for the buffer zone but it does not have the necessary support at this time," Selcuk Colakoglu, analyst at Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (USAK) told Xinhua.

"Faced with looming humanitarian crisis in Syria, Turkey is scrambling to find a solution to the refugee problem by trying to enlist the help from regional and global powers," Colakoglu said, predicting that Turkey will shy away from unilaterally intervening into Syria for buffer zone.

Turkey's NATO partners fear that creating a buffer zone for humanitarian reasons would require a significant military commitment including air protection in terms of no-fly zone and may risk military confrontation with the Syrian army. NATO is not prepared to act at this time though it has drawn up contingencies in case the situation escalates in a member country's border with Syria.

COPING WITH MORE REFUGEES

Turkey believes setting up a safe zone will deliver a significant warning to the embattled Syrian President Bashar al- Assad administration and may help decrease violence. It fears, in the absence of the safe zone, the number of refugees will be drastically up.

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