Nuran Unal (C) and Arzu Fahmi (R) hold portraits of their husbands, cameraman Cuneyt Unal (C) and TV correspondent Bashar Fahmi (R), as they demonstrate in front of the Syrian Embassy in Ankara Friday to demand their release. More than 100 Turkish journalists staged a protest to demand the release of the two Turkish reporters reportedly being held by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. — AFP
NEW YORK — France plans to channel aid to rebel-held parts of Syria so that these “liberated zones” can administer themselves and staunch an outflow of refugees, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
He said France and Turkey had identified areas in the north and south that had escaped President Bashar Al-Assad’s control, creating a chance for local communities to govern themselves without feeling they had to flee to neighbouring countries.
“Maybe in these liberated zones Syrians who want to flee the regime will find refuge which in turn makes it less necessary to cross the border whether in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan or Iraq,” Fabius said after a UN Security Council meeting in New York Thursday.
However, civilians in rebel-held parts of Syria have suffered frequent deadly air strikes from Assad’s forces.
It was not clear how Fabius’s promise to allocate much of its future 5 million euros ($6.25 million) aid for Syria to these areas would protect civilians and deter them from fleeing.
“What we can see is that the opposition has taken strong positions in liberated zones in the north and south,” Fabius said. “Those resisting who have taken control of certain zones and municipalities need to administer these areas.”
Credible protection for “liberated” areas would require no-fly zones patrolled by foreign aircraft, but there is no chance of securing a UN Security Council mandate for such action, given opposition from veto-wielding members Russia and China. After the Council meeting, Western powers said military action to secure safe zones was still an option. — Agencies