ANTAKYA, TURKEY - A surge of Syrians seeking sanctuary from their country's soaring violence prompted Turkey to halt the flow of refugees at two key border crossings on Sunday amid an escalating humanitarian crisis that is intensifying pressure for international intervention.
The closure left more than 7,000 refugees stranded in olive groves just inside Syria at the two places where most Syrians cross.
With more than 80,000 refugees in Turkey, nearly double the number a month ago, officials warned that the country is rapidly approaching the point at which it will no longer be able to cope. That could trigger a request for support at the United Nations for the creation of some form of internationally protected haven to enable refugees to remain in Syria.
Turkey is considering asking the United Nations to find a way "to keep those Syrian nationals safe on the Syrian side of the border," said a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It is becoming a big burden."
Although Turkish officials have been pressuring the United States to move toward some form of intervention, the United States is not convinced that the creation of any form of buffer zone would work, according to a senior U.S. administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Discussions by U.S. contingency planners have focused on a variety of options. They range from what is being called "no-fly lite," which would provide a haven for refugees but not require outright attacks on military facilities, to a full-scale no-fly zone similar to the one imposed over Libya last year, according to U.S. officials.