(ANKARA, Turkey) — The U.S. and the rest of the West have been opposed to creating a no-fly zone over Syria, fearing the might of President Bashar al-Assad’s air force despite the leader’s seeming reluctance to trust many of his fighter pilots.
However, Turkey is looking into the possibility of offering help to rebel forces by lining up Patriot missile batteries along its border.
This would, in effect, create a no-fly zone at least over the northern part of Syria that includes its largest city of Aleppo, where much of the fighting between government troops and rebels has been taking place for months.
The Patriot missiles have a range of about 40 miles that would offer cover to opposition fighters in their efforts to wrest control of Syria from al-Assad after nearly 20 months of warfare that has left an estimated 35,000 people dead.
Ankara’s move might also spur the West to do more as well, including creating direct links to opposition forces inside Syria. Most of the reluctance to give aid up to now has to do with fears that Islamic militants operating in the country could be helped as well.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN