Turkey and US hint at no-f ly zone over Syria
THE United States and Turkey indicated yesterday that they might impose no-fly zones in Syria as battles between rebels and president Bashar al-Assad’s forces shook Aleppo and fighting erupted in the heart of Damascus.
After meeting her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, in Istanbul, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said that Washington and Ankara should develop detailed operational planning on ways to assist the rebels fighting to topple 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 about options such as imposing a no-fly zone over rebel-held territory, Clinton said these were possibilities she and Davutoglu agreed “need greater in-depth analysis”.
Her remarks were the closest Washington has come to suggesting direct military intervention in Syria. No-fly zones imposed by Nato and Arab allies helped Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar al-Gaddafi last year.
Meanwhile, in the latest battles, tanks and troops pummelled rebels near the shattered district of Salaheddine, a former opposition stronghold that commands the main southern approach to Aleppo.
Tank fire crashed into the adjacent Saif al-Dawla neighbourhood as military jets circled over an abandoned police station held by rebels, firing missiles every few minutes.
Insurgents said they had been forced to retreat in the latest twist in relentless, see-saw battles for Salaheddine, part of Aleppo seized by rebels last month.
Some rebels, outgunned and low on ammunition in Aleppo, have pleaded for outside military help, arguing that more weapons and a no-fly zone over areas they control near the Turkish border would give them a secure base against Assad’s forces.
“The reason we retreated from Salaheddine this week is a lack of weapons,” said Abu Thadet, a rebel commander in Aleppo who said his fighters would regroup and fight back.
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