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Turkey Calls For ‘Secure Strip’ Along Syrian Border


Turkey says it wants the creation of a “secure strip” 10 kilometers inside Syria along its southern border to prevent attempts to "change the demographic structure" of the area.

Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan made the comments on February 17 as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, have advanced toward the Turkish border.

Kurdish militia fighters have taken advantage of the offensive to seize territory from other Syrian rebel groups.

Turkey has long pressed for a safe zone on Syrian territory, backed up by a no-fly zone, to protect its borders and provide protection for refugees.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described Turkey's actions on the border with Syria as "absolute lawlessness."

“Turkey is shelling populated areas across its border and sending money, people, and materiel there, just because it simply cannot tolerate that these districts are being freed from terrorists and extremists," Zakharova said.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a no-fly zone in Syria could be done by agreement between President Bashar al-Assad, his backers, and the coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Gennady Gatilov was quoted as saying any decision to create a no-fly zone over Syria cannot be made without the approval of the Syrian government and the UN.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax