Turkey again called on the United States and other allies to rethink its proposal for a no-fly zone in northern Syria right after the United Nations expressed their concerns over the bombings in Aleppo. The idea indeed is attractive since the Syrian government and the Russians have a monopoly of air power over the city.
President Bashar Assad’s forces bombed the rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo and many hospitals in the area were under the airstrikes. Regional director for the UN’s children’s agency, Geert Cappelaere, said that “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.” Moreover, eight students were killed when a school was hit on the government side of the city.
Turkey has been demanding for a no-fly zone for a while now in hope to protect Syrian opposition fighters from President Bashar Assad’s air force. However, Syrian government forces are fully engaged in their war against their enemies in Aleppo and it does not seem like they will retreat. Moreover, Russians are very active in the air, hence the unilateral decision on a no-fly zone might aggravate the relations with Russia as well as Assad. The picture is clear: imposing a no-fly zone opens the possibility of a war and not doing so will continue to bring further innocent casualties. In the end, shouldn’t this trap-like situation call for other options such as a ceasefire and negotiations or even leave the city to Assad so that the locals will have a chance to rebuild their lives?
In Istanbul, when addressing a NATO parliamentary assembly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once more criticized its allies for their reliance on Syrian Kurdish fighters to battle the Islamic State. Erdogan hopes 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.”
Turkish ground troops that had been sent into Syria in August are not fighting the Syrian government, instead they are in alliance with the Syrian opposition fighters who are battling the IS and the US-backed Kurdish forces. Since Ankara sees the Kurdish forces as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey, it is not planning to resolve the conflict in a way that might empower them. While Washington provides air support for the Syrian Kurds and refuses to directly target Assad’s forces, recent presidential elections in the US and its outcome might change this position: Donald Trump expressed some skepticism about American support for Syrian rebels and in fact, hinted at joining forces with Russia against the IS.
Russian airplanes are still striking the insurgents to help Assad’s forces. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary General, emphasized that “the bombing that is conducted by the Russian and Syrian air forces is just adding to the human suffering in Syria.” Clashes between the government forces and the rebels are still continuing in Aleppo. Nine people including a woman with 2 children were killed as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports. Others civilians are wounded, including three children.
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