German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs Syria no-fly zone

German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs Syria no-fly zone
Germany's leader had come out in support of 'some form' of no-fly zone in Syria to protect refugees from Russian bombing.
2 min read
16 February, 2016
Merkel had previously rejected the safe zone idea [AFP]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed a no-fly zone in Syria to protect thosands of Syrian refugees from Russian bombing.

Merkel said that safe zone in Syria - where refugees would not fear aerial attack - could help alleviate the desperate situation for tens thousands Syrians.

"In the current situation, it would be helpful if there was an area there in which none of the warring parties carry out attacks by air - so a type of no-fly zone," she told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper on Monday.

She also said that an agreement between opponents and supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would also help end the five year war.

However, she added that it would not possible to negotiate with the Islamic State group.

Recent intensive Russian bombing in northern Syria has led to hundreds of deaths and forced tens thousands from their homes.

Schools and hospitals have also been hit by bombs in the past twenty-four hours.

EU President Donald Tusk said that Russia's aerial bombardments in Syria had dealt a blow to hopes of a ceasefire in the war-torn country.

"Russian bombing leaves little hope" for a solution to the five-year conflict in Syria, Tusk said on a visit to Athens.

It comes ahead of another push by the international community to get warring parties to agree to a ceasefire.

Turkey has repeatedly called for a safe zone to be set up in northern Syria.

However, the US and other NATO allies fear it would require an internationally patrolled no-fly zone that could put the West in direct confrontation with Assad and his Russian allies.

Merkel had previously rejected the safe zone idea, warning that, if security could not be guaranteed it could put refugees at risk of being massacred as happened in Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 Bosnian civil war.

Turkey hosts at least 2.6 million Syrian refugees, and has recently tried to keep the latest wave of Syrians out of the country.

The German leader said that Russian air raids in Aleppo province were making "everything even more complicated" and expressed sympathy for the Ankara's position.

"I can totally understand Turkish politicians reproaching us Europeans for not being able to explain not taking refugees in Europe while at the same time urging them to keep their Turkish borders open for further needy Syrian refugees," she said.