July 27, 2015

Kaine Statement on Announcement of Increased U.S.-Turkish Cooperation Along Syrian Border

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement on reports of greater cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey on an ISIL-free zone along the Syrian border:

“I welcome the news of greater U.S.-Turkey cooperation along the Syria border to establish an ISIL-free zone that, with additional measures, could become a protected zone for internally displaced Syrians and the approximately 1.8 million Syrian refuges who have fled into Turkey. Since visiting the region last year, I have urged the Administration to establish one or more humanitarian safe zones, in coordination with our partners, to protect Syrian civilians fleeing from the brutality of the Assad regime, ISIL, al-Nusra and other hardship. Such a zone would also allow these civilians to receive unfettered humanitarian aid and ease the burden on neighboring countries dealing with an unprecedented refugee crisis.

“Earlier this month, I returned to the region, leading a Congressional delegation to the Syrian border town of Gaziantep, Turkey to meet with interim Syrian government officials, local council representatives, opposition forces, and refugees - all reiterated the call for greater protection against the barrage of threats they are facing. We also held meetings in Ankara with Turkish government officials to discuss the Syrian humanitarian crisis and the U.S.-Turkey partnership on regional issues, including working together to counter ISIL. I am pleased the Turkish government has agreed to allow U.S. aircraft to use its base at Incirlik to enable more strikes against ISIL in northern Syria.  I hope this development combined with the effort to establish an ISIL-free zone will lead to greater security and stability along Turkey’s border with Syria and help provide protection for displaced Syrians.”

In April, Kaine joined Senators Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham and John McCain in sending a letter to President Obama to draw attention to the crisis and urge the Administration to create and enforce humanitarian safe zones to protect civilian lives and supply lines for food, water, and medical supplies.