U.S. Weighs Creating a Safe Zone in Syria

(Washington Post) Karen DeYoung - The Obama administration is weighing the opening of a new front in the air war against the Islamic State in Syria by creating a relatively safe zone along part of Syria's border with Turkey for U.S.-backed Syrian rebel forces to move in. Under the plan, U.S. aircraft flying from Turkey's Incirlik air base would target positions along the border north of Aleppo, eastward toward the besieged town of Kobane, with the targeting assisted by Turkish special forces. The plan was developed during extensive meetings between U.S. and Turkish diplomatic and military officials. The proposal would at least partly address Turkey's long-standing desire for a protected buffer zone inside Syria. In exchange, the U.S. would gain access to Incirlik for the use of manned warplanes and armed drones throughout Syria. Aircraft currently striking Islamic State positions in northern and eastern Syria fly from bases in the Persian Gulf, a distance of about 1,000 miles. President Obama has not yet approved the proposal. Many officials, particularly in the White House and within the military, remain distrustful of Turkey's desire to draw the U.S. into a direct confrontation with Assad. Turkey agreed in recent weeks to allow the establishment in its territory of a training base for Free Syrian Army fighters. Turkey is also training about 1,300 Iraqi Kurdish fighters to fight against the Islamic State.

2014-12-02 00:00:00

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