Turkey may take ’steps’ after Syria deadline

April 08, 2012, Sunday/ 10:31:00

Turkey's prime minister has said the country will wait "patiently" to see if Syria abides by a cease-fire deadline, but may take certain "steps" if the violence does not stop after that.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not specify Saturday what measures Turkey would take. But Ankara has in the past floated the idea of creating a buffer zone inside Syria if refugee flows become overwhelming.

Officials say nearly 700 Syrians have crossed into Turkey since Friday, raising the number of refugees to 24,324. Turkey has also said it would seek UN assistance if the influx continues.

Almost half died in a Syrian army raid on the central village of al-Latamneh on Saturday, activists said. Amateur video from the village showed the body of a baby with bloodied clothes and an apparent bullet wound in the chest. On another video, a barrage of shells is heard hitting a neighborhood of Homs as the restive city's skyline is engulfed in white smoke.

Syrian President Bashar Assad last week accepted a cease-fire agreement brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan calling for government forces to withdraw from towns and villages by Tuesday, and for the regime and rebels to lay down their arms by 6 a.m. Thursday. The truce is meant to pave the way for negotiations between the government and the opposition over Syria's political future.

However, Western leaders are skeptical about Assad's intentions because of broken promises of the past and the recent escalation in attacks on opposition strongholds, including arrest sweeps and shelling of civilian areas.

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