Thursday Dec 22, 201106:55 PM GMT
'Turkey ponders buffer zone in Syria'
Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:48PM
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File photo shows Syrian military police carrying a coffin, preparing to send the bodies of the soldiers and security forces killed during the unrest to their hometowns for burial.
Turkey may send its military forces into Syrian soil to establish a “buffer zone,” should the current unrest in Syria skyrocket into a refugee crisis that would pose a threat to Ankara, a report says.

The report, published in the Turkish daily Posta on Thursday, warned of the prospect of a civil war in Syria, adding that it could send around 200,000 Syrians Turkey's way.

Referring to the likelihood of establishing the restricted area, prominent Turkish journalist Mehmet Ali Birand also emphasized that the option "was raised at the highest level, some time ago.”

Since mid-March, Syria has been struggling with unprecedented unrest that has left scores of people dead, including many soldiers and other members of its security forces.

Syrian authorities blame armed groups and foreign elements for the violence, saying security forces have been given clear instructions not to hurt civilians.

Birand additionally states, "The UN would become involved, and Turkey would be obligated to close its border and create a buffer zone," using its armed forces.

Thousands of Syrians have fled the tension to the Hatay Province in southern Turkey, which borders Syria.

Many of the refugees come from the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, where Syrian forces have reportedly engaged in heavy clashes with what the government has described as armed groups.

The developments come amid Ankara's recent adoption of a toughened stance vis-à-vis Damascus.

Citing a classified report, informed sources in the Syrian capital recently said the “unprecedented intensification” of unrest in Syria stemmed from deals between Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and some unknown groups in the region.

The Syrian government also says the weapons used against Syrian forces during the Jisr al-Shughour clashes were smuggled into the country from Turkey.

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