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Trump's immigration executive order drops Syria safe zone plan

Trump's controversial refugee ban has dropped the plan to create a Syria safe zone [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 January, 2017

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US President Donald Trump's final executive order on immigration and refugees has dropped the commitment included in the initial draft for safe zones for refugees in northern Syria.
A controversial executive order from the US president banning refugees in seven Muslim countries from entering the US has dropped a plan to establish safe zones for refugees inside Syria.

The draft plan, revealed on Thursday, includes an order for the Pentagon and defence department for the creation of a safe zone in Syria where millions displaced by the fighting can seek refuge within their own borders.

The creation of a safe zone carries with it the possibility of greater US military involvement in the country's six-year conflict, including use of American ground forces. 

However, the final executive order, signed by US President Donald Trump late on Friday excludes the commitment.

The safe zone plan, which has long-been encouraged by Turkey, was met with a warning from Syrian regime-allied Russia that it was important to "weigh all possible consequences" of the measure.

The US had not consulted with Russia on the subject, Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov alleged, adding "it's important not to exacerbate the situation with refugees".

Meanwhile, along with rebel-backing Turkey, Qatar had welcomed the plans.

Qatar's foreign ministry director of information, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, said in a statement that Qatar "emphasised the need to provide safe havens in Syria and to impose no-fly zones to ensure the safety of civilians".

Safe zones, proposed by both Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton during the election campaign, were ruled out by the Obama administration.

In October, the Russian military specifically warned the US against striking Syrian regime forces, warning that its air defence weapons based in the war-torn country would fend off any attack.

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