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US senator suggests no-fly zone if Syria truce fails

 If the cessation of hostilities in Syria fails, Turkey's proposal for a safe zone can be discussed, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Anadolu Agency.

"It certainly should be looked at as an avenue," said Bob Corker on Thursday, noting that the U.S. has missed the opportunity to change the tide in Syria.

"When Turkey was willing to talk with us about a no fly zone, I think it was the time for us to put that in place in the northwest triangle of Aleppo. If we had done that, I think we would have been at a very different place today," he said.

Turkey has long proposed the establishment of a safe zone in Syria to protect millions of refugees fleeing slaughter by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Despite the deaths of hundreds of thousands of victims and the displacement of millions in Syria, Washington has been reluctant to support the proposal, citing difficulties of executing a no-fly zone in the country.

Senior Pentagon officials have told Congress that Russian, Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah, the Assad regime, and terror groups such as Daesh would try to challenge any area designated as a safe zone.

However, many others discuss that the international community had the opportunity to overcome the five-year old civil war in its early phases.

"In many ways we missed our opportunities to really affect things in a more positive way," Corker said, noting that Russian intervention has propped up the Assad regime and resulted in an end to diplomatic negotiations that were brokered by the U.N. that has ended in stalemates.

"Unfortunately it is going to be driven by Russians because they came in with forces in a way that U.S. would not do," he said, referring to the Syrian talks ongoing in Geneva.

Russia intervened in the Syrian war at the end of September, a move Moscow said was to support Assad against terror groups.

Regional experts, as well as U.S. officials, believed the government in Damascus was on the brink of collapse when Russia got involved.

With Russian air support, Assad's forces took on Syrian moderate opposition forces rather than Daesh, according to the U.S., Turkey and allies.

Russian intervention resulted in thousands of civilian deaths as well as tens of thousands of refugees.

Since late last year the U.N. has worked to broker a cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid access the besieged areas.

Parties under the U.N. banner agreed to a truce in northern Syria that began in March.

Secretary of State John Kerry has said if the cessation of hostilities failed the U.S. would move to a "Plan B," but the Syrian regime, alongside Russia, have violated the truce several times. Several rebel groups have also been in violation of the agreement.

Russia and the U.S. recently agreed on a deal for a truce in and around Aleppo and Kerry reiterated his Plan B comments.

"I don't want to be so pejorative but I don't think that there ever has been a plan B," Corker said. "I think Russia and Iran and Syria know that there has never really been a plan B."

Inaction by the Obama administration would result in U.S. interests in the region being driven by Russian actions in Syria, according to Corker.

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