ISTANBUL — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Turkey and the U.S. will increase cooperation in support of Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
Secretary Clinton, at a news conference in Istanbul with her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, announced the formation of a common operational structure between the two countries to support the Syrian opposition.
"Our two ministries are coordinating much of it, our intelligence and military have very important roles to play," she said.
Turkey, which neighbors Syria, is already a base for the Syrian Free Army, but Clinton stressed that U.S. support will continue to be non-lethal. But when the U.S. secretary of state was asked if the cooperation with Turkey could extend to no-fly zones over Syria she did not rule it out
"The issues you posed in your question are exactly the ones the minister and I have agreed need greater in-depth analysis," she said. "It is one thing to talk about all kinds of potential action. You cannot make reasoned decisions without doing intense analysis and operational planning."
Clinton also said the deepening bilateral cooperation will focus on the nightmare scenario in Syria.
"In the horrible event that chemical weapons were used, and everyone has made that clear that is a red line to the world, and what that means in terms of response and humanitarian and medical emergency assistance and of course what needs to be done to secure those stocks from ever being used or falling into to wrong hands," she said.
The U.S. secretary of state also warned of the danger that terrorist groups including al-Qaida might seek to use Syria as a base There was also concern expressed over the humanitarian crisis in Syria and increasing numbers of refugees fleeing the country.
Clinton announced $5.5 million of new aid, for the refugees. Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu said refugees fleeing to Turkey had surged to 3,000-a-day and that his country might need international assistance. Around 55,000 Syrians have already sought refuge in Turkey. The secretary of state also met with representatives of the Syrian opposition and Turkey's prime minister and president during her visit.