France backs creation of Syria-Turkey safe zone

8th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

France said Wednesday it backed a proposal by Ankara to create a safe zone along its border with Syria to ensure Turkey's security and host refugees fleeing Islamic State militants.

In a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Francois Hollande "gave his support to the idea... of creating a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey to host and protect displaced people," the French presidency said in a statement.

Islamic State militants are battling Kurdish militia in Kobane -- a town in northern Syria that borders Turkey -- and while air strikes by a US-led coalition fighting IS have helped push back the jihadists, pressure is mounting for more international action to save the town.

Some 200,000 mainly Kurdish refugees have fled the IS advance into the area, and Ankara in particular has come under pressure to act, although its response has been complicated by concerns over emboldening Kurdish separatists, who have waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey over the past decades.

Erdogan's proposal to establish the safe zone may however only be enforceable by deploying foreign troops on the ground, which coalition members such as France have so far ruled out.

According to the presidency statement, Hollande and Erdogan agreed that the moderate Syrian opposition fighting both IS and the regime of Bashar al-Assad should be "helped more."

© 2014 AFP

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