Turkey warns Syria not to provoke regional crisis
Turkey warned Syria on Friday it would act to protect itself if a Syrian government crackdown on protesters threatened regional security and unleashed a tide of refugees on its borders.
At least 24 Syrians were shot dead as protesters took the streets following Friday prayers and ahead of a general strike called for Sunday, according to a network of anti-government activists reporting events to a website based in Britain.
Other activist sources put the toll as high as 37 dead.
Ten were killed in Homs, the hub of the nine-month-old revolt, where televised footage showed demonstrators against President Bashar al-Assad chanting “Syria wants freedom” and “Bashar is an enemy of humanity.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu did not say what action Ankara might take, but he made clear Turkey would not hesitate to insulate the region’s security from tumult in Syria. Turkey shares a 560 mile border with Syria.
“Turkey has no desire to interfere in anyone’s internal affairs. But if a risk to regional security arises, then we do not have the luxury of standing by and looking on,” Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara.
Peaceful demonstrations calling for reform began in Syria in March, inspired by the Arab Spring, but were met almost from the outset by lethal force.
“If a government that is fighting its own people and creating refugees, is putting not only their own security at risk but also that of Turkey, then we have a responsibility and the authority to say to them: ‘Enough!’” Davutoglu said.
Adding to the condemnation, a senior Saudi prince said Arab states would not turn a blind eye to violence in Syria.
Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, seen as influential though no longer holding public office, told a conference in Vienna he believed the Arab League would not “sit back and allow the continued massacre of the Syrian people.”
Activists say about 4,600 Syrians have been killed in nine months of protest and violent state suppression. Hundreds have fled over the border to Turkey which has established refugee camps.