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France backs creation of buffer zone between Syria and Turkey

media Kurds watch air strikes against IS outside Kobane AFP

French President François Hollande backed the creation of a buffer zone between Turkey and northern Syria, as refugees flee the town of Kobane defended by Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State (IS) armed group.

In a telephone conversation on Wednesday, Hollande told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he agreed with his proposal of a buffer zone to “receive and protect” people driven from their homes by the fighting in northern Syria.

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“The president of the republic insisted on the need to avoid the massacre of the population in the north of Syria,” a statement from the Elysée presidential palace said.

Kurds protested in several Turkish cities on Tuesday against the government’s failure to intervene militarily to save Kobane from the IS, although supporters of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) fear that military intervention will increase Ankara’s capacity to combat the separatist movement.

The leader of the Syrian Kurdish guerrilla movement, PYD, visited Ankara on Saturday to try to get Turkish help to save Kobane.

He reportedly rejected Turkish conditions, including that Syrian Kurds give up claims to self-rule and that a “safe zone” be established.

US-led air strikes led to IS fighters falling back from the town,; which they have besieged for the last three weeks, according to Kurdish leaders there.

Erdogan and Hollande agreed to provide more help to the “moderate” Syrian opposition, which is fighting both IS and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the Elysée said.

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