WASHINGTON (AP) — The ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the US should work with Turkey to establish safe zones for retreating Syrian rebels.

Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana says the so-called safe zones would be on Turkish territory and guarded by Turks to allow Syrians to retreat from violence.

Turkey has reacted to the popular uprising in Syria by urging Syrian leader Bashar Assad to step down, accepting some 23,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, and playing host to civilian and military members of the Syrian opposition. But Turkey has recently expressed concern about Syria allowing Kurdish rebels who are fighting Turkish forces to establish bases in Syrian territory.

Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Lugar also called for tougher sanctions to support UN diplomatic efforts.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.