Pentagon: Turkey's proposed buffer zone not on table
France says it backs the idea of a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that Turkey's proposed buffer zone in Syria was not on the table "now" as the military option was under consideration.
The Pentagon’s statement followed earlier statements by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who said the idea of a buffer zone should be thoroughly studied.
“The buffer zone... is an idea that’s out there, it’s worth examining, it’s worth looking at very, very closely,” Kerry told reporters.
“We are at the stage of exploring this,” agreed British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, adding “we’d have to explore with our other allies and partners what is meant by a buffer zone, how such a concept would work. But I certainly wouldn’t want to rule it out.”
Meanwhile, in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Francois Hollande "gave his support to the idea... of creating a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey to host and protect displaced people.”
ISIS militants are battling Kurdish militia in Kobane -- a town in northern Syria that borders Turkey -- and while air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition fighting IS have helped push back the jihadists, pressure is mounting for more international action to save the town.
Some 200,000 mainly Kurdish refugees have fled the IS advance into the area, and Ankara in particular has come under pressure to act, although its response has been complicated by concerns over emboldening Kurdish separatists, who have waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey over the past decades.
Kerry suggested that preventing the fall of Kobane to ISIS fighters was not a strategic U.S. objective and said
“As horrific as it is to watch in real time what is happening in Kobane ... you have to step back and understand the strategic objective,” Kerry told reporters at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
“Notwithstanding the crisis in Kobane, the original targets of our efforts have been the command and control centers, the infrastructure,” he said. “We are trying to deprive the (ISIS) of the overall ability to wage this, not just in Kobane but throughout Syria and into Iraq.”