Erdogan Says Turkey Lacks Authority to Impose Syrian Buffer Zone

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was unable to unilaterally impose buffer zones on its border with Syria and relied on the United Nations to make such decisions.

Responding to questions in Berlin during a joint news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel today, the premier said Turkey “has no authority or right to declare” a buffer zone or a no-fly zone to protect civilians inside Syria. “It is an issue which the UN Security Council can decide on,” he said.

His comments came as the 19-month Syrian civil conflict again spilled over the border, with ambulances ferrying wounded rebels from the frontier to hospitals inside Turkey, CNN-Turk television showed, as gray smoke billowed from Syrian buildings and the sound of gunfire could be heard.

Reinforced Turkish army units have been engaging Syrian targets since a shell killed five Turks this month, with the most recent exchange on Oct. 29. More than 35,000 people have been killed since the conflict began, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while more than 388,000 Syrians have fled their homeland, the UN says.

A U.S. military delegation, meanwhile, visited an air base in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir to prepare possible operations related to Syria, Hurriyet newspaper reported today, without citing anyone. The U.S. embassy in Ankara did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

At least 67 people have been killed across Syria today, including 36 in Aleppo, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria said. Six people were killed and 13 injured in an explosion at a vegetable market near a Shiite Muslim shrine in a Damascus suburb, Syria’s state television said.

A meeting of the Syrian opposition in the town of Silivri, near Istanbul called for the creation of a government-in-exile or a transitional government that can “lead political action and achieve political victories,” according to a statement today by the Syrian Center for Political & Strategic Studies, a think-tank which organized the three-day event.

To contact the reporters on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net; Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at dabunasr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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