Turkey’s leader calls for no-fly zone over Syria

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES WORLD - By Suzan Fraser and Bassem Mroue

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey called on the United States and other na­tions Mon­day to re­think its pro­posal for a no-fly zone in north­ern Syria as the U.N. ex­pressed deep con­cerns over the bomb­ing of hospi­tals in rebel-held parts of Aleppo.

Gov­ern­ment f or­ces pounded be­sieged re­bel­held neigh­bor­hoods of the north­ern city for a sev­enth day, rais­ing fears for the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion af­ter airstrikes hit most of the hospi­tals in the area over the week­end.

“There are no more work­ing hospi­tals in east­ern Aleppo, where more than 100,000 chil­dren are trapped un­der siege and heavy bom­bard­ment with dwin­dling ac­cess to food and medicine,” said Geert Cap­pelaere, re­gional di­rec­tor for the U.N.’s chil­dren’s agency. “They need these hospi­tals to stay alive.”

“Chil­dren should not be dy­ing in hospi­tals be­cause of bombs and they should not be dy­ing in schools,” he said, re­fer­ring to a school that was hit on the gov­ern­ment side of the city on Sun­day, killing eight stu­dents.

Turkey has long called for a no-fly zone to pro­tect Syr­ian op­po­si­tion forces from Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s air force. Ankara sent its own ground troops into Syria in Au­gust, but they are not fight­ing the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment. In­stead, Turk­ish forces and al­lied Syr­ian op­po­si­tion fight­ers are bat­tling the Is­lamic State group and U. S.- backed Kur­dish forces, which Ankara views as an ex­ten­sion of the Kur­dish in­sur­gency in south­east­ern Turkey.

Ad­dress­ing a NATO par­lia­men­tary as­sem­bly in Is­tan­bul, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan again crit­i­cized al­lies’ re­liance on Syr­ian Kur­dish fight­ers to bat­tle Is­lamic State.

“I hope that in the up­com­ing process, this will be re­assessed, es­pe­cially by the United States, and pos­i­tive steps will be taken so that ter­ror­ism’s back is bro­ken and Turkey is rid of the threat of ter­ror­ism,” Er­do­gan said.

Turkey’s po­si­tions have put it at odds with Wash­ing­ton, which has re­fused to di­rectly tar­get As­sad’s forces while pro­vid­ing air sup­port for the Syr­ian Kurds, who have proven to be among the most suc­cess­ful ground forces bat­tling Is­lamic State.

It’s un­clear how those

KAYHAN OZER/AP

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan told a NATO meet­ing in Is­tan­bul that the U.S. should re­con­sider a no-fly zone.

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