NATO is not considering establishing a no-fly zone in northern Syria, something Turkey has been calling for to alleviate security and humanitarian pressure on its southern border, one of the alliance’s top generals said.
“A no-fly zone is a resource-intensive undertaking,” Lt.-Gen. John Nicholson, the new head of LANDCOM, said at his headquarters in the Aegean province of İzmir.
Turkey has NATO’s second largest military and is host for Land Command (LANDCOM), which is charged with improving the effectiveness and response time of the alliance’s land forces.
Although Turkey has made no formal request to NATO for help in establishing a no-fly zone, it has repeatedly said that willing nations should put one in place to create safe areas in Syria, allowing some of an estimated 1.6 million Syrian refugees to be repatriated.
The recent example of Libya emphasized how much work was required for NATO to run air operations, according to Nicholson.
“But that’s not something we’re looking at right now in this context,” he said.
Ankara’s plans for establishing so-called “safe zones,” with air defense as a key component, have so far received a cool reception from allies. Military experts point out it would necessitate either agreement from the Syrian government or taking out Damascus’ advanced air defense systems.