Syrian opposition group seeks to open representation in Turkey

Syrian opposition group seeks to open representation in Turkey

Syrian opposition figure Samir Nashar (C) addresses a meeting in İstanbul Oc. 2, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

November 14, 2011, Monday/ 10:15:00

A Syrian opposition group that is trying to form a united front against President Bashar Assad has sought permission to open a representation in Turkey, state-run Anatolia news agency said on Monday.

Members of the Syrian National Council relayed their request to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Sunday, the agency said. Relations with Syria have been strained in recent days by a spate of attacks on Turkish diplomatic missions in Damascus and other cities.

The council, a broad-based opposition umbrella group, was formed in İstanbul in September. No country has recognized it so far as a legal representative of the country. Syria has threatened tough measures against any country that does.

The Turkish Cabinet was expected to discuss attacks on Turkish missions in Syria during a meeting Monday, state-run TRT television said.

Supporters of Assad on Saturday tried to break into the Turkish Embassy in Damascus and into the country's consulates in the cities of Aleppo and Latakia to denounce an Arab League decision to suspend Syria's membership in response to its crackdown on the eight-month uprising. The Saudi and Qatari embassies were also broken into during the protests.

Turkey is not a member of the league, but welcomed the decision. After the attacks, Turkey summoned Syria's charge d'affaires and formally issued a protest note Sunday demanding protection for its diplomatic missions. Turkey also demanded that the assailants be identified and brought to justice.

Turkey evacuated some families of diplomats as well as nonessential staff and some 60 people returned home Sunday on a Turkish plane. Turkey also issued a warning against traveling to Syria.

Turkey separately renewed its call on Syrian leaders to end the crackdown, which the U.N. estimates has killed more than 3,500 people since mid-March, saying: "no administration can come out victorious from any struggle against its own people."

Turkey's government had cultivated warm ties with Assad, but has grown highly critical of Damascus over its continued violent repression of the anti-government protests. Turkey has imposed an arms embargo on Syria and is expected to announce other sanctions.

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