Turkey will establish 'safe zone' in Syria within days

Turkey will establish 'safe zone' in Syria within days
Turkey's long proposed 'safe zone' in Syria will become reality "within days", according to security sources, as Turkey plays down tensions after downing a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.
2 min read
25 November, 2015
Erdogan has sought to play down tensions with Russia [Getty]
Turkey's President has said his country will soon establish a long proposed 'safe zone' within Syria, after the country shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday, al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service has reported.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday at a reception at the Presidential Palace in Ankara that a "humanitarian safe zone" will soon be realised in northern Syria with allies.

"Turkey in cooperation with its allies will soon set up a humanitarian safe zone between Jarablous and the Mediterranean coast to prevent any more humanitarian disasters from happening again and to provide a place for refugees who want to live in their country," Erdogan said.

      Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near Syria on Tuesday [Getty]
A defected Syrian army general has told an al-Araby al-Jadeed correspondent that the safe zone will be put into place "within the next few days".

"The safe zone will extend from Jarabulus on the Euphrates river until the city of Azaz north of Aleppo," said Major-General Mohammad al-Hajj.

"Turkey thinks [the zone] will stem the flow of Syrian refugees into Turkey, sever Kurdish communications between Kobani and Afrin and protect its southern border in cooperation with several pro-Turkish opposition factions," Hajj said.

The major-general said it was unlikely the tensions between Turkey and Russia would escalate to direct confrontation because "the stakes are too high".

"Turkey will go ahead with its plans to set up the safe zone after it reaches certain understandings with Russia," Hajj said.

Erdogan has sought to play down tensions with Russia after Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane on the Syria border has sparked fears among NATO allies of a wider conflict.

Turkey said the Russian Su-24 warplane had violated its airspace 10 times within a five-minute period, but Russia insisted it had never strayed from Syrian territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted furiously to what he described as a "stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists", recommending that Russians do not visit Turkey, a key tourist destination.

A senior Syrian opposition figure said on Monday that Russia's bombing campaign in Syria has killed 500 civilians since it began over a month ago.