Turkey announced on Friday the possibility of establishing a “buffer zone” inside Syria to ensure the safety of refugees crossing into the border.
Thousands of Syrians have been escaping President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, who are allegedly responsible for the bloody crackdown on protesters that has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 9,000 people in the past one year.
Syrian refugees have been seeking shelter in tents at the Hatay province at the Turkey-Syria border on a daily basis, and while many like Ahmed Muglek feel safe and comfortable, they still hope to return to their homes one day.
This homesickness has increased the chance of foreign intervention to ensure that the uprising comes to an end and refugees can return to Syria.
Once a close ally of Syria’s, Turkey has been increasingly vocal to its opposition of Assad and criticized the crackdown, stressing its citizens leave Syria because of its volatile security. It was concern for its citizens as well as the well-being of Syrian refugees that prompted Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to propose a “buffer zone” among other alternatives.
In related news, Syria’s oppositional National Council has welcomed the initiative but on the condition that it be implemented immediately.
Turkey has also stressed the need for international support in creating the buffer zone primarily as it wants armed protection as it is suspicious of the Syrian chaos tipping over and into its border.
There are 14,700 Syrian refugees in Turkey to date of which around 1,000 arrived on Thursday following an outbreak of clashes in Idlib.
A “Friends of Syria” meeting is scheduled for April 2, where the border security situation will be discussed in greater detail.