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Rebels Strike Back at Syrian Air Force

Turkey calls for 'safe zones' to protect waves of refugees
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2012 4:29 PM CDT

(Newser) – Syrian rebels struck back at the nation's air force today by taking over a military airport and an air defense facility in oil-rich eastern Syria, Reuters reports. The strikes follow other rebel attacks at military airports near the Turkish border. President Bashar al-Assad has been relying on Syria's air power to strafe Syrian rebels and civilians, causing a new tide of refugees to deluge neighboring countries and prompting Turkey to demand "safe zones" in Syria.

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But the UN Security Council—still divided over Syria—ignored the plea, as did Western leaders who don't want their troops to protect such safe zones. "We cannot take such a measure unless the United Nations Security Council decides in favor of it," says Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. "First a decision for the no-fly zone must be taken, then we would be able to take a step towards a buffer zone." The 17-month-old conflict suffered its worst weekly death tally last week, with some 1,600 fatalities, according to the United Nations. (Read more Syrian uprising stories.)

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