Damascus rejects proposals of no-fly zone in Syria

A Syrian air force jet fires a flare in the Mleha suburb of Damascus © Goran Tomasevic
Syrian government flatly rejects proposals for a no-fly zone in Syria, as such a notion would be a violation of the country’s sovereignty and contravenes international laws, a source in the Syrian Foreign Ministry told the SANA news agency.

Damascus was surprised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s renewed proposal for a no-fly zone in Syria, the official told the state-run news agency on Thursday.

The Syrian government “completely rejects” these proposals as they “constitute a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and contravene the rules of the international law and the UN Charter,” SANA cited the source as saying. “The aim of these statements would only lead to prolonging the crisis in Syria instead of contributing to finding a solution,” the agency added.

The introduction of the no-fly zone in Syria will only result in the "Libyan scenario,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, warned on Thursday.

"No one wants the 'Libyan scenario'. The international community has already experienced this concept," she said. "The result is visible not only in Libya, rather, it is not seen in Libya at all. However, it is seen far beyond Libya's borders – in Europe."

She elaborated by saying that the proposals were not Merkel’s initiative, but were pushed forward by Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

"The statements on a no-fly zone were made by the German chancellor, but this is not her idea, the idea is not new, it was promoted by Turkey," the she said. "Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov has pointed out that this proposal should be coordinated with the official Damascus. No one cancelled the country's sovereignty."

Any invasion of Syria would be illegitimate, and the countries in the region must comply with international law, she concluded.

On Wednesday, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters that Merkel's suggestion came in the context of what was agreed upon at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) last week. He did not elaborate on how the no-fly zone would function.

The US, which is taking part in the significant efforts to settle the Syrian crisis using political means, has been wary to back the no-fly zone proposal – sparking criticism from Ankara.

On Wednesday Erdogan claimed that a no-fly would have prevented Russia's air campaign in the region.

"Oh America! You did not say 'yes' to 'no-fly zone.' Now the Russian planes are running wild over there, and thousands and tens of thousands of victims are dying," Erdogan said. "Weren't we coalition forces? Weren't we to act together?"

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This is not the first time Turkey has criticized its NATO ally. Ankara has been particularly discontent with Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurds, who are fighting Islamic State (IS, former, ISIS, ISIL) militants in Syria. Turkey considers them a branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which it has designated a terrorist group.