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Syria warns of unilateral attempts to establish safe zones in northern Syria

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:11, January 31, 2017

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned on Monday of any attempt by foreign powers to establish safe zones in northern Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

Al-Moallem made the remarks at a meeting with visiting United NationsHigh Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, where both agreed that imposing safe zones, as proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, would be "unsafe" and violate the sovereignty of Syria, if without coordination with the Syrian government.

On Wednesday, Trump said he "will absolutely do safe zones in Syria" for refugees fleeing the war in the country, amid reports that he will task the Pentagon to prepare a plan for setting up safe zones in northern Syria.

Turkey agreed on the idea, as Ankara has long been seeking to create such zones in northern Syria, especially when it has forces there fighting the Islamic State (IS) group and Kurdish-backed militias.

In separate phone calls with Trump on Sunday, Saudi King Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammad agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemento help refugees "displaced by the ongoing conflicts," the White Housesaid in a press release.

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country may support the U.S. initiative to establish safe zones for refugees in Syria, noting that the plan would require close cooperation with the UN and approval from the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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