Syria’s Supreme Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun has called for the Russian Navy’s greater presence in the Mediterranean, which would counterbalance Turkey’s idea of a buffer zone in northern Syria. He warns that certain risks exist extremists may settle down there.
“At their meeting US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a decision to separate a 30-kilometer strip of land from Syria along the border with Turkey in order to let extremists from different regions of the world who had been fighting in Syria settle there,” Hassoun said on Wednesday at a meeting with a Russian delegation under the co-chairman of the working group for the implementation of the agreement between the United Russia party and the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, State Duma member Dmitry Sablin.
“Just imagine the Taliban (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia), with which the Soviet Union had been fighting against in its day and which served as a basis for creating Al Qaeda (terrorist group outlawed in Russia) may be holding talks with the United States. It may well turn out that extremists, who may allow to be settled in that territory, will become a new force capable of attacking Russia,” he speculated.
“For this reason, we would like the Russian Navy to get stronger and keep the Mediterranean under control because this is precisely what they are afraid of,” Hassoun said.
After talks with Trump Erdogan on Tuesday confirmed his country’s intention to create a buffer zone in northern Syria. He said Ankara was prepared to maintain security on the ground, while the United States would do the same in the airspace.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that Turkey would control the buffer zone, should it be created.
The discussion on creating a buffer zone began back in 2013 due to the crisis in Syria. The possibility of creating a no-fly zone and a zone of security in Syrian territory for refugees was considered then, too.
Ankara has raised this subject every year since, but each time the plans had to be aborted for different reasons.