No-fly zone in Syria?

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Picture: AFP
ISTANBUL - The United States and Turkey are looking at all measures to help Syrian rebel forces fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, including a no-fly zone, as the conflict there deepens, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday.

Clinton told reporters after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that their countries needed to get into detailed operational planning on how to assist the rebels and bring a halt to the violence.

Overnight Syrian and Jordanian forces clashed along the border in an incident that highlighted international concerns that the civil war in Syria could ignite a wider regional conflict. The clashes also emphasised the urgent need for planning on what could follow Assad's fall.

"Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play so we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that," Clinton said.

Asked if such discussions included options such as imposing a no-fly zone over territory that Syrian rebels claim to control, Clinton indicated that was a possible option.

"The issues you posed within your question are exactly the ones the minister and I agreed need greater in-depth analysis," Clinton answered, although she indicated no decisions were necessarily imminent.

The imposition of no-fly zones by foreign powers was crucial in helping Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year. But until recently, the United States and its European allies have expressed reluctance to take on an overt military role in Syria's 17-month-old conflict.

The rebels are believed to be getting arms from Saudi Arabia and Qatar but only non-lethal assistance from the United States.

Davutoglu, responding to a similar question on next measures, said it was time for outside powers to take decisive steps to resolve the humanitarian crisis in cities such as Aleppo, which is under daily Syrian government bombardment.