Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said Turkey will take all necessary measures, including military ones, if the ongoing turmoil in neighboring Syria poses a security threat for Turkey.
Davutoğlu was speaking during a television program hosted by veteran journalist Mehmet Ali Birand on Thursday night. When Birand asked whether Turkey is heading towards war with Syria, Davutoğlu said the Turkish state thinks that the oppression inflicted on the Syrian people has reached unacceptable levels.
When he was asked what Turkey can do in the face of this crackdown, Davutoğlu said the Syrian people will do what should be done. “But, as Syria's neighbor, there are also many steps that we can take. Everyone knows that,” Davutoğlu said. As for whether military measures are also included in these steps, the minister said, “Of course, when the situation becomes a security threat for us.”
“Every domestic crisis in Syria will affect Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. It affects the whole region. In this regard, there is no other country more important than Syria today. So, when an internal conflict in Syria poses a risk to Turkey, we will take all necessary measures,” he said.
Davutoğlu's remarks were reported by some Turkish dailies as confirmation of an intention to go to war against Syria. However, a statement from the Foreign Ministry denied the reports and said Davutoğlu did not say Turkey was going to war with Syria on Birand's program, nor anywhere else. The statement elaborated that the minister had only said Turkey would take all measures for Turkey's security.
Dismayed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's failure to heed repeated entreaties to stop the violence, Turkey has begun putting pressure on Syria. On Tuesday, a Syrian colonel who has emerged as one of the leaders of armed resistance to the 45-year-old Syrian president's rule revealed that he had been given sanctuary in Turkey.
At least 2,700 civilians have been killed in Syria, according to a UN count. Damascus blames the unrest on foreign-backed armed gangs, who it says have killed 700 security personnel.