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AP News

Turkey to press for safe zone in Syria

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's foreign minister said Wednesday he would press the United Nations Security Council to set up a safe haven inside Syria to protect thousands of people fleeing the violence there as his country is straining to shelter an increasing flow of refugees.

Turkey has long been floating the idea of a no-fly zone, or buffer zone, to protect displaced Syrians from attacks by President Bashar Assad's forces, but the issue has become more pressing now the number of refugees in Turkey has exceeded 80,000 — an amount it says approaches its limits.

The refugee agency has said up to 200,000 refugees could eventually flee to Turkey.

"We expect the U.N. to step in and protect the refugees inside Syria, and if possible, to shelter them in camps there," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters before leaving for New York to attend Thursday's high-level U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria.

"We shall be requesting that the U.N. take effective steps for the problems we are faced," Davutoglu said. "When refugee numbers reach hundreds of thousands, this problem goes beyond being an internal issue and becomes an international one. No one has the right to expect Turkey to take on this international responsibility on its own."

All nine camps along Turkey's 911-kilometer (566-mile) long border with Syria used to shelter Syrians fleeing the conflict are full, and the country is building four new camps to accommodate new arrivals. One opened late Tuesday, allowing authorities to start letting in several thousand more displaced Syrians who were waiting on the Syrian side of the border, an official said.

He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules that bar civil servants from speaking to reporters without prior authorization.

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