Syria: Opposition, UN continue no-fly zone debate


Syrian refugee children receive aid distributed by an aid organization at the Zaatari refugee camp, located outside the northern Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, on August 15, 2012.


Khalil Mazraawi

The Syrian National Council, a coalition of opposition groups, on Thursday called on the UN Security Council to impose a "no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors" to shelter civilians from ongoing violence there, AFP reported.

"The SNC considers that if the Security Council does not take serious measures to halt the regime's massacres and crimes, it will have abandoned its role as guarantor of world peace and protector of people against genocide," an SNC statement said, according to AFP.

AFP reported that the statement was issued prior to a Thursday UN Security Council meeting convened to discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria. France and Britain both pledged more aid toward relief efforts during the meeting, though British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed doubt that the Security Council would approve the idea of safe zones for Syrian refugees, according to Al Arabiya and agency reports.

However, Britain and France did not rule out the option of a military-enforced no-fly zone to protect safe areas, the Washington Post reported.

Turkey had also called for the creation of buffer zones inside Syria to accommodate displaced persons, an idea that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad roundly rejected during an appearance on a pro-government television channel. Turkey and other countries bordering Syria are straining to accommodate a growing flow of refugees.

The US, China and Russia did not send ministers to the council meeting. The Security Council has been plagued by fractiousness throughout the crisis in Syria, making it impossible for the body to recommend strong action toward ending the crisis.

The UN said at the start of the meeting that proposals to create buffer zones for Syrians inside the country "raise serious questions and require careful and critical consideration," Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said, according to Reuters.