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Clinton: U.S., Turkey Considering Syria No-Fly Zones

Syrian refugee children play at the Al-Zaatri refugee camp in the city of Mafraq, Jordan. The UN says it has registered 150,000 Syrian refugees in four neighboring countries.
Syrian refugee children play at the Al-Zaatri refugee camp in the city of Mafraq, Jordan. The UN says it has registered 150,000 Syrian refugees in four neighboring countries.
By RFE/RL
The United States and Turkey are considering imposing no-fly zones and other measures to help rebel forces in strife-torn Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking Saturday after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul, said that Ankara and Washington wanted to expand operational planning to assist the rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul, said that Ankara and Washington wanted to expand operational planning to assist the rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"What the minister and I agreed to today was to have a very intensive operational planning. We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning and it needs to be across both of our governments," Clinton said.

"Certainly, our two ministries are coordinating much of it but our intelligence services, our militaries have very important responsibilities and roles to play. So we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that."

Clinton said that imposing a no-fly zone over territory that Syrian rebels claim to control was an option that the United States and Turkey agreed needs "greater in-depth analysis."

The imposition of no-fly zones by foreign powers was crucial in helping Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Qaddafi last year.

Clinton said the two countries shared the same strategic goal -- "hasten the end of the violence" and put an end to the Assad regime.

Turkey, which neighbors Syria, has been one of the strongest critics of Assad's response to the 17-month uprising against his rule.

Davutoglu on urged the international community to take decisive steps to resolve the humanitarian crisis in cities such as Aleppo, which is under daily Syrian government bombardment.

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are reported to have fled to Turkey.

Hizballah Added To Sanctions List

The visit comes after Washington on August 10 announced sanctions on Syrian state oil company Sytrol for trading with Iran.

The U.S. Treasury also said it was adding Hizballah to a blacklist of organizations targeted under Syria-related sanctions.

Washington had already designated the Lebanese Shi'ite militant group as a terrorist organization and it is under U.S. sanctions, but the latest move explicitly ties the group to the violence in Syria.

In other news, Arab foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on August 11 in Saudi Arabia to discuss developments in Syria and select a replacement for Kofi Annan, the United Nations-Arab League envoy.

Annan resigned on August 2, saying increased militarization in Syria and in-fighting within the UN Security Council made his work impossible.

Diplomats at the United Nations have tipped veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Arab League top official, as a favorite to replace Annan.

The meeting comes before Muslim leaders meet in Saudi Arabia on August 14 for a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

More British Aid

Also on August 10, Britain announced its commitment of an extra $7.8 million in nonlethal equipment to Syrian opposition groups.

After the announcement, British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country was "working very closely with the Syrian opposition."

"The risk of doing nothing is we see more butchery in Aleppo, more butchery in Damascus, in Homs, in Hama, elsewhere. That is what is happening," Cameron added.

"Now, we cannot intervene militarily for the well-known reasons -- this is not Libya, this is a very different case -- but can we help to try to bring about transition in Syria, whether by acting at the United Nations, or by assisting the Syrian opposition? Yes we can, and we should."

Meanwhile, reports say clashes erupted between Jordanian and Syrian forces along the countries' shared border late on August 10.

Jordanian sources said gunfire broke out between Jordanian and Syrian border patrols after Syrian forces opened fire on a group of some 500 refugees, which allegedly included Syrian Army defectors, attempting to cross into Jordan.

Jordanian border patrols returned fire when Syrian forces targeted refugees who had already reached Jordanian soil.

No injuries were reported.

Earlier, the UN said civilians were fleeing the Syrian city of Aleppo in increasing numbers amid a lull in fighting between rebels and government forces.

The UN refugee agency said it had now registered almost 150,000 refugees in four neighboring countries. It said 6,000 had crossed into Turkey in the past week, many of them from the Aleppo area.

The UN estimates that 19,000 people have died in Syria in 17 months of unrest.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, BBC, and dpa
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by: Jack from: US
August 11, 2012 14:12
No-fly zones? US is clearly the biggest sponsor of terrorism, and RFE/RL is its propaganda mouthpiece.

by: Jack from: US
August 11, 2012 16:03
Syrian people have defeated Sunni thugs from "Free Syrian Army". Which is why US government and its Sunni minions are planning to go to war against Syrian people.

by: Carlos from: California
August 11, 2012 17:14
I have been to Aleppo and never met a kinder people ..

Listen to what President Obama said last year .. he was absolutely right ..
March 28, 2011, President Obama said .. "when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians." www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-...

“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” (Except in an election year?)

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” (Except in an election year?)

“And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” (March 28, 2011)

In Syrian however President Obama has turned his back on these truths .. he has stood by and watched as the bodies and atrocities pile up .. it is shameful .. he is not worthy to lead the home of the free and the brave ..

by: William from: Aragon
August 11, 2012 22:06
I cannot wait to see the comment from our friend Jack from the US - Jack, this one is all yours!
In Response

by: Jack from: US
August 12, 2012 18:52
US is biggest sponsor of terrorism.

by: Grin Olsson from: Alaska
August 11, 2012 23:46
Syria is a sad situation for everyone. But, the government is correct in assessing sovereign power to assure a secular government that rules over various Islamic ideologies. It is my opinion that the United States siding with Saudi Arabia is a very dangerous mistake, as that nation is responsible for more trouble in the world than what may appear. I think we should take a stand with Russia and China on this issue as World War 1 decided the kind of government that Syria should have in the break up of the Ottoman Empire and Germany's quest for conquest.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
August 12, 2012 07:18
"Clinton: U.S., Turkey Considering Syria No-Fly Zones" Really :-))? And three weeks ago - just before I went off line for the Urlaub-time - this very same Clinton was promising "the last days of Bashar al-Assad". I see they kind of had to postpone the "last days" and return to the previous story of "no-fly zones" :-)).
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
August 12, 2012 18:53
Eugenio, welcome back from your vacation. How was your gay cruise in the Black Sea? I hope you had fun.

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