Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested on Friday a safe zone could be established along his country’s border with Syria, as the number of refugees fleeing the country from President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on protesters continues to rise.
“On the subject of Syria, a buffer zone, a security zone, are things being studied,” The BBC quoted Erdogan as having said.
The report added that Turkey has urged its citizens to leave Syria, saying developments there have led to “serious security risks.”
The Turkish foreign ministry was quoted by The BBC as having said consular services in Damascus would end at the end of office hours next Thursday, but the consulate in the second city of Aleppo would remain open.
“Developments in Syria pose serious security risks for our nationals,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Therefore it is strongly recommended that Turkish nationals currently in Syria leave and return home.”
Erdogan was quoted as having said he would also consider withdrawing Turkey's ambassador once all its citizens had returned.
The United Nations said this week that more than 230,000 Syrians have fled their homes during the bloody year-long crackdown on a popular uprising.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees' coordinator for Syria said 30,000 people have already fled to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
An official source in Turkey said on Thursday that about 1,000 Syrian refugees crossed the border into his country in just 24 hours. The source estimated that the trend will continue as long as the fighting does.
Meanwhile on Friday, UN and Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan briefed the Security Council on his peace efforts. He later said was sending a team to Syria to discuss deploying monitors, The BBC reported.
Annan, who held talks with Assad in Damascus last week, told reporters on Friday that his main aims were to stop the violence, improve the delivery of aid, and speed up the democratic process in Syria.
The news comes on the first anniversary of the country's uprising, which has left more than 8,000 people dead.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)