"Here is our goal: We want to declare a safe zone that is 95 by 45 kilometers (60 by 30 miles), or 4,000-5,000 square kilometers (2,385-3,100 square miles)," Erdogan told an NGO meeting in New York.

The targeted region includes the towns of Jarabulus and al-Rai, which have been liberated from Daesh by moderate opposition forces supported by the Turkish military since Ankara launched Operation Euphrates Shield late last month.

Erdogan said his government wants to build settlements in the safe zone for Syrian refugees in Turkey to return to their country, or for those in Syria who seek to flee the ongoing bloodshed.

He also said a UN convoy hit inside Syria earlier this week was struck by regime forces while entering Aleppo, where nearly 300,000 residents are in need of humanitarian aid amid an ongoing siege.

Assad’s culpability in the atrocity must be exposed, according to Erdogan. "We need to see this. If we are unable to see this reality, shame on us."

Erdogan's remarks on a safe zone in Syria come one day after State Secretary John Kerry demanded all flights above certain parts of the war-torn Mideast country be grounded to allow for an unimpeded flow of aid.

Kerry's words were taken to mean a partial no-fly zone, a move Turkey has demanded but one the Obama administration has been reluctant to implement, citing logistics and troop commitments.

The civil war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of victims and left the country in utter ruin.

Its neighbors have also borne the brunt of the ongoing violence, with Turkey alone shouldering the bulk of the refugee response, hosting nearly 2.7 million UN-registered refugees within its borders.

Anadolu Agency