Turkey's Erdogan calls for no-fly zone in Syria

AP, Friday 26 Sep 2014

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that a "no-fly zone" should be created in Syria to protect part of it from attacks by Syria's air force.

In his comments to reporters on his return from the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Erdogan did not specify where such a zone should be located.

But Turkey is eager to re-focus the world's attention on removing Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime from power as well as fighting the Islamic State militants who are battling Kurdish forces just over the border in Syria, triggering a refugee influx into Turkey.

"A no-fly zone must be declared and this no fly-zone must be secured," Erdogan said, adding that he had discussed the issue with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

In addition, Erdogan said a "secure area" should be created on the Syrian side of the Turkish border, where tens of thousands of Syrians have fled the fighting as refugees. Turkey could probably protect such an area with its artillery.

Erdogan also reiterated that Turkey is considering how to support the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. In New York, Erdogan told Turkish reporters that Turkey's involvement could include its military.

Previously Turkey had been coy about whether it would contribute to the coalition, citing the safety of 49 people who had been kidnapped by the militants from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul, Iraq, in June. But the hostages were freed last weekend, prompting the U.S. to press Turkey to contribute to the coalition.

"Our 49 citizens were hostages. But now the conditions have changed. The process as of now will be different," Erdogan said Friday, without elaborating.

He said the Islamic militants were casting a shadow over Islam.

"As Muslims, we have to do all that we can," Erdogan said.

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