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Turkey Mulls Over Creating Buffer Zone As Syrian Refugees Swell

3/16/2012 9:21 AM ET

Turkey said on Friday that it was considering setting up a "security" or "buffer zone" along its border with Syria and hinted at withdrawing its Ambassador from Damascus once Turkish citizens inside the neighboring country returned home.

"On the subject of Syria, a buffer zone, a security zone, are things being studied," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that other ideas were also under consideration. "It would be wrong to look at it from only one perspective."

According to Turkish media, Turkey is wary of military intervention in Syria, but has signaled a large flood of refugees entering its territory, or massacres by Syrian government troops, could force it to act. It has said that in any operation it would need some form of international agreement and involvement.

Erdogan also said his country was considering recalling its Ambassador from Damascus once Turkish citizens had returned from Syria, which the Turkish Foreign Ministry urged them to do at once.

Earlier in the day, the Foreign Ministry told Turkish citizens in Syria to return home, citing growing security risks. "It is evident that developments in Syria pose serious security risks to our citizens [in Syria]. In this regard, Turkish citizens in Syria are strongly advised to return home," the Ministry said in a statement.

Turkey is currently facing an influx of refugees from Syria flooding its borders. It has set up camps in Hataya province to accommodate more than 15,000 Syrians who fled that Arab country following unabated violence exacerbated by security crackdowns.

Some 1,000 Syrians including a General who defected from the Syrian Army crossed into Turkey on Thursday swelling the number of refugees, a Foreign Ministry official said. The latest arrivals represent a sharp increase in the number of Syrians fleeing fighting as clashes continue in the nearby Syrian town of Idlib.

by RTT Staff Writer

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