Turkey: Nothing left to talk about if Syria fails to halt operations
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has issued a stark warning to Syrian authorities to immediately halt military operations across the country or he said there will be nothing left to talk about the steps that would be taken.
Davutoğlu told reporters on Monday after full-scale military operations in a number of Syrian cities since Thursday by Syrian authorities to crush the five-month uprising against the 11-year rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Turkey is demanding that all military operations that result in civilian death must be stopped immediately and unconditionally.
"If these operations do not stop there will be nothing left to say about the steps that would be taken," he said, without elaborating.
"This is our final word to the Syrian authorities, our first expectation is that these operations stop immediately and unconditionally," Davutoğlu said in Turkey's strongest rhetoric yet against its once close ally and neighbour.
Stressing that Turkey will always stand by Syrian people, Davutoğlu said the Syrian army indeed stepped back for two days after he had talks with Assad in Damascus last Tuesday but has resumed military operations since Thursday.
He stressed the Turkish government has contacted with Syrian authorities every day to stop the bloodshed in the neighboring country, strongly dismissing allegations that Turkey gave time to Syria to stop military operations.
Davutoğlu said his message to the Syrian government is that all operations in big cities must be stopped and the military should be withdrawn from the cities, life should return to normal.
Turkish leaders, who once backed Assad, have repeatedly urged him to end violence and make reforms after street protests against his 11 years in power erupted five months ago.
"In the context of human rights this cannot be seen as a domestic issue," he told reporters, without taking questions or making clear whether he spoke directly to Assad.
Turkey, a Muslim NATO member that has applied to join the European Union, is one of the few countries in the world that has open communication lines with Damascus. Davutoğlu visited Damascus last week and held talks with Assad.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who spoke last week with US President Barack Obama about violence in Syria, said he hoped Syria would take steps towards reform within 10-15 days.
However the bloodshed has continued. The Syrian navy shelled two densely populated residential districts of the main Mediterranean port city of Latakia on Sunday, killing more than 30 civilians, residents and rights campaigners said.