September 29, 2015 / 5:39 PM / in 2 years

Merkel warns of risks of 'safe zone' in northern Syria

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday that creating a “safe zone” for refugees in northern Syria could put them at risk of being massacred, starkly distancing her country from a Turkish proposal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

France said on Monday it would discuss with its partners in the coming days the suggestion by Turkey and members of the Syrian opposition that a “no-fly zone” could be created in northern Syria.

Speaking to lawmakers from her party in Berlin, Merkel expressed concern about the dangers of trying to create such a buffer zone.

“If we were not able to guarantee security, then a situation would arise that would be even worse than Srebrenica,” Merkel said, according to a number of people present in the meeting, referring to the slaughter of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

There was concern that Islamic State could overrun such a security zone.

Struggling with more than 1.8 million Syrian refugees, Turkey has long campaigned for a “no-fly zone” in northern Syria to keep Islamic State and Kurdish militants from its border and help stem the tide of displaced civilians trying to cross.

Germany is expecting a record 800,000 asylum seekers to arrive this year, including a large number who are fleeing the conflict in Syria.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Andrew Roche

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