US issues contradictory statements on Syrian no-fly zone

The White House, State Department and Pentagon respond differently to reports that Turkish and American officials agree to a no-fly zone in northern Syria.

US issues contradictory statements on Syrian no-fly zone

World Bulletin/News Desk

U.S. administration officials made conflicting statements Monday regarding reports that the U.S. and Turkey are negotiating a limited no-fly zone in Syria along the Turkish border.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the two countries have come close to an agreement on using the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, and other airbases, to patrol a zone in Syrian alongside Turkish border, which would be off limits to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime’s forces.

But Bloomberg news claimed that the U.S. envoy leading the anti-ISIL coalition, Gen. John Allen, negotiated an "air-exclusion zone" inside Syria along the Turkish border that would be protected against ISIL and Assad forces.

Following the reports, the White House, State Department and Pentagon issued different and conflicting statements.

"We are certainly actively discussing a range of issues, including our shared concerns about border security with the Turks and reviewing a number of options," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

She added, however, that Turkey and the U.S. still have differences on the issue.

"We haven’t made a decision about a specific course of implementation, we’re just continuing to have a discussion with Turkey," she said.

Turkey has urged U.S. and coalition partners to form a safe zone for Syrian refugees as Turkey is currently hosting more than 1.3 million refugees.

Washington has consistently rejected Ankara's proposal but U.S. media claimed that Vice President Joe Biden and Gen. Allen negotiated the issue on a recent visit to Ankara.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said Monday "at this point we don’t believe that a no-fly zone fits the bill here."

Earnest said that on his recent visit to Ankara, Biden intensively discussed the issue with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but he added that he would not characterize it as progress or shift in U.S. position. 

Added to the confusion are two different statements from the Defense Department.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman, told The Anadolu Agency that the U.S. has discussed a no-fly zone and associated buffer zones with Turkish government.

"Nothing is ever off the table when it comes to our frank conversations with Turkish friends, and we will continue those conversations to determine if there is a version of this proposal that advances our shared objectives," Hillman said.

But she said, currently there is no decision on any form of a no-fly zone.

Another Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren, said, "Right now, we don’t believe a buffer zone is the best way to relieve the humanitarian crisis there in northern Syria."

Last Mod: 02 Aralık 2014, 10:33
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