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People's Daily Online>>World >> Middle East

Syrian opposition calls on Turkey to build buffer zone


13:52, March 19, 2012

ISTANBUL, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Syrian National Council (SNC), a major opposition group based in Istanbul, made an urgent plea here on Sunday to the Turkish government for the creation of a buffer zone within Syria to provide shelter for civilians as well as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) who are fighting government forces.

SNC member Khaled Khoja said that a buffer zone is urgently needed. "We are calling for a buffer zone to be created immediately to protect the hundreds of thousands of refugees within Syria. Politicians are talking about this, but there have been no concrete steps or promises."

The SNC already said it will use the buffer zone to encourage defections and mount attacks against government targets, according to a report by Turkish daily Today's Zaman.

Khaled said the buffer zone should be extended to opposition cities, such as Homs and Idlib, which have been severely pounded by government forces.

He also reiterated the need of a buffer zone to help the badly outgunned FSA, a loosely coordinated group of military deserters.

Currently, he said, the FSA is severely outgunned but more and more troops will defect to join them.

However, he added, defection is extremely dangerous as there are no safe zones for defectors to flee to.

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