Turkey’s leader calls for no-fly zone over Syria
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.
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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a NATO meeting in Istanbul that the U.S. should reconsider a no-fly zone.