US, Turkey Collaborate on Syria Crisis

Posted August 11th, 2012 at 12:50 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The United States and Turkey are setting up a working group to plan for possible scenarios in Syria, saying the strategic goal is to hasten the end of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced the initiative Saturday during Clinton's visit to Turkey. They said the working group will coordinate details on military, intelligence, and political responses as conditions in Syria continue to deteriorate.

When asked if responses included options such as a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, Clinton did not rule it out but said it needed “greater in-depth analysis.”

Clinton told reporters that the U.S. and Turkey agree on the need to create an operations plan in case chemical weapons are used in Syria, because the need for medical aid and accommodations for refugees would increase.

And both Clinton and Davutoglu said they agree they must guard against the strife in Syria creating a power vacuum that could allow Turkey's outlawed Kurdish militant group, the PKK, to expand or take safe haven in Syria.

Both Clinton and Davutoglu met with Syrian refugees Saturday, and Clinton also met with Syrian opposition activists.

Davutoglu said the number of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey has risen to 3,000 a day and said Turkey may need international assistance to cope with them. Around 55,000 refugees have already taken shelter in Turkey.

Clinton also met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul before winding up her visit.

Meanwhile, protesters gathered in Istanbul to protest Clinton's presence.

On Friday, the U.S. Treasury's top official on terrorism and financial intelligence said the U.S. is tightening sanctions and adding new ones on Syria and its supporters. The U.S. accuses Iran and the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah of aiding in the suppression of the Syrian people.

Clinton visited Istanbul Saturday after an 11-day, nine-nation tour of Africa.


“We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict

but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning and it needs to be across both of our governments.''