France backs creation of Syria-Turkey safe zone
France said Wednesday it backed a proposal by Ankara to create a safe zone along its border with Syria to ensure Turkey`s security and host refugees fleeing Islamic State militants.
Paris: France said Wednesday it backed a proposal by Ankara to create a safe zone along its border with Syria to ensure Turkey`s security and host refugees fleeing Islamic State militants.
In a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Francois Hollande "gave his support to the idea... of creating a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey to host and protect displaced people," the French presidency said in a statement.
Hollande "insisted on the need to avoid a massacre of the populations in northern Syria", said the statement.
"Taking into account the urgency and the risks, all options must be examined" including the idea of a buffer zone which "requires close international cooperation," read the statement.
Islamic State militants are battling Kurdish militia in Kobane -- a town in northern Syria that borders Turkey -- and while air strikes by a US-led coalition fighting IS have helped push back the jihadists, pressure is mounting for more international action to save the town.
Some 200,000 mainly Kurdish refugees have fled the IS advance into the area, and Ankara in particular has come under pressure to act, although its response has been complicated by concerns over emboldening Kurdish separatists, who have waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey over the past decades.
Erdogan`s proposal to establish the safe zone may however only be enforceable by deploying foreign troops on the ground, which coalition members such as France have so far ruled out.
According to the presidency statement, Hollande and Erdogan agreed that the moderate Syrian opposition fighting both IS and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be "helped more".
The White House meanwhile denied on Wednesday it was considering creating a safe haven along Turkey`s border with Syria, after the US and British top diplomats said the idea was worth examining.
"It`s not something that is under consideration right now," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.