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Syria warns uncooridanted 'safe zones' would pose risks to civilians

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photo released by Syria's official news agency, SANA, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem (R) meets with the head of the UN refugee agency, Filippo Grandi in Damascus, Syria, January 30, 2017.

The Syrian foreign minister has warned that plans to create safe zones in the Arab country, proposed by the new US administration, would pose serious risks to civilians’ lives if enforced without coordination with Damascus.

Walid al-Muallem said Monday that any attempt to impose safe zones without coordination with the Syrian government will be an “unsafe act.”

The top Syrian diplomat, who was meeting with the head of the United Nations refugee agency, Filippo Grandi, in Damascus, said that setting up safe zones in Syria without any authorization from the Damascus government would certainly violate the country’s sovereignty.

The comments came a day after the White House said President Donald Trump had agreed in a phone conversation with Saudi King Salman to support the idea of creating safe zones in Syria.

Trump said last week that he would “absolutely do safe zones in Syria” for refugees fleeing crisis in the country.  

During his Monday meeting with the UN official, Muallem also called on all Syrians who have left the country during the six-year war to return home, saying the Syrian government would meet all the needs of refugees. The call comes amid increasing criticism about an executive order by Trump, which has banned the entry of all Syrian refugees into the US for an indefinite time.

Millions have been displaced in and outside Syria since the war began in the country in March 2011. Most of the Syrian refugees have fled their homeland for Europe. 

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