- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Friday the United States should establish no-fly zones and sanctuaries along Syria’s border with Jordan and Turkey, and warn aggressors, specifically Russian President Vladimir Putin, that they violate those buffers at their own risk.

Campaigning in New Hampshire, the Republican presidential hopeful said the U.S. must send a message that military retaliation is a guarantee, not an idle threat, if conditions are not met.

“You enter that no-fly zone, you enter at your own peril,” Kasich said. “No more red lines, no more looking the other way. If any hostile aircraft should enter that, there will be a great consequence to them.”

Kasich said the zones would provide refuge for Syrians fleeing the 4-year-old civil war that has killed a quarter million people and displaced an estimated 4 million. He suggested regional assistance from Turkey, Jordan and the Kurds and said the administration should encourage European allies to help enforce any no-fly zones.

“A no-fly zone can be very, very effective if it’s enforced,” he said.

And should Islamic State extremists attempt to enter the sanctuaries, Kasich said, the U.S. and regional partners, including Saudi Arabia, should be ready for ground combat to repel them.

He specifically called out Russia, which this week began airstrikes in Syria. Moscow maintains the strikes are targeting Islamic State fighters but U.S. officials have disputed that claim, saying the areas hit were strongholds of rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.

“We’re not interested in military cooperation in Syria with Russia,” Kasich said. “Their only interest is in propping up their puppet, Assad. They used the pretext of ISIS to go in and bomb rebels who are trying to remove Assad.”

Kasich also sharply criticized President Barack Obama for what he said were years of inaction in the region that has allowed Assad to remain in power.

“No more dickering, no more delaying, no more negotiations, he has to go,” Kasich said of Assad. “The longer we look at the void that America has created in this world, the more chaos we have. The time has come for the United States to act.”

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