NATO is not considering establishing a “no-fly zone” in northern Syria, something Turkey has been calling for to alleviate security and humanitarian pressures on its southeastern borders, one of the alliance’s top generals has told Reuters.
Turkey has NATO’s second largest military and is host for Land Command (LANDCOM), which is charged with improving the effectiveness and response time of the alliance’s land forces.
Although Turkey has made no formal request to NATO for help in establishing a no-fly zone, it has repeatedly said that willing nations should put one in place to create safe areas in Syria, allowing some of an estimated 1.6 million Syrian refugees to be repatriated.
“A no-fly zone is a resource intensive undertaking… That’s not something we’re looking at right now in this context,” Lieutenant General John Nicholson, the new head of LANDCOM, told Reuters in an interview at his headquarters in the Turkish coastal city of Izmir.
Ankara’s plans for establishing so-called “safe zones”, with air defense as a key component, have so far received a cool reception from many allies. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius this week expressed support for the idea but said that “there are a lot of people to convince”.
Military experts say it would necessitate either agreement from the Syrian government or taking out Damascus’ advanced air defense systems.
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