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Turkey, US weigh no-fly zones for Syria

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicates the US, Turkey considering imposing no-fly zone to support Syria's armed rebels against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad

Reuters , Saturday 11 Aug 2012
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, at far right, meets with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, at far left, in Istanbul, on Saturday, (Photo: AP).

The United States and Turkey are considering imposing no-fly zones and other steps to help Syrian rebel forces as the conflict there deepens, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday.

Clinton told reporters after meeting Turkish Foreign Minster Ahmet Davutoglu that Ankara and Washington needed to get into the details of operational planning on ways to assist the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

"Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play so we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that," she said.

Asked if such discussions included options such as imposing a no-fly zone over territory that Syrian rebels claim to control, Clinton indicated that was a possible option.

"The issues you posed within your question are exactly the ones the minister and I agreed need greater in-depth analysis," Clinton answered, although she indicated no decisions were necessarily imminent.

"It is one thing to talk about all kinds of potential actions, but you cannot make reasoned decisions without doing intense analysis and operational planning," she said.

The imposition of no-fly zones by foreign powers were crucial in helping Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year. But until recently, the United States and its European allies have expressed reluctance to take on an overt military role in Syria's 17-month-old conflict.

The rebels are believed to be getting arms from Saudi Arabia and Qatar but only non-lethal assistance from the United States.

Davutoglu, responding to a similar question, said it was time for outside powers to take decisive steps to resolve the humanitarian crisis in cities such as Aleppo, which is under daily Syrian government bombardment.

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