US pledges safe zones in Syria for refugees

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the US will increase pressure on Daesh and Al Qaeda since “defeating Daesh is a priority.”

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Top officials from 68 nations met in Washington for the Global Coalition meeting on March 22, 2017.

The United States would set up “interim zones of stability” in Syria to help refugees return home, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday in Washington.

Tillerson did not make clear where these zones were to be set up, but said, "The United States will increase our pressure on ISIS [Daesh] and Al Qaeda, and will work to establish interim zones of stability, through ceasefires, to allow refugees to return home."

He was speaking during the Global Coalition against Daesh meeting attended by top officials from 68 nations.

Creating any safe havens could ratchet up US military involvement in Syria and mark a major departure from former president Barack Obama’s opposition.

Turkey, which hosts about three million Syrian refugees, has long advocated for a safe zone in northern Syria to shelter people fleeing the six-year civil war.

However, the Obama administration opposed Turkey’s call.

Wednesday's event was the first meeting of the coalition since the election of Trump, who has pledged to make the fight against Daesh a priority.

US airdrop near Daesh-held Raqqa​

The Pentagon said on Wednesday that US-backed forces were air dropped near the Daesh-held town of Tabqa in northern Syria.

The delivery aims to open a new front in the campaign to recapture nearby Raqqa city, Daesh's so-called capital.

Local sources said that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance including mostly YPG militants, were dropped on Tuesday.

Ankara says the YPG is the Syrian extension of PKK, a terror organisation according to Turkey, the US and the EU.

Washington, on the other hand, describes the YPG as an important ally in Syria.

TRTWorld and agencies