Davutoğlu compares Syrian killings to Srebrenica massacre

March 04, 2012, Sunday/ 18:04:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Saturday that brutal violence perpetrated by President Bashar al-Assad in Syria resembles the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, which was later recognized as genocide.

“The way Syria is heading resembles the situation in Srebrenica,” said Davutoğlu during a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Giulio Terzi, calling on the international community to strengthen its criticism of the violence that has been inflicted against the Syrian people by their government for over a year.

Srebrenica -- with its majority Muslim population -- was a United Nations-protected area besieged by Serb forces throughout the 1992-95 war for Serb domination in Bosnia. There, Serbs proceeded to round up Srebrenica’s Muslims and killed over 8,000 men and boys, marking the climax to the 1992-95 Bosnian war that claimed 100,000 lives. An international court later labeled the killings as genocide.

Davutoğlu claimed the international community should take preventive measures, including providing military assistance to opposition forces, in order to discourage the Assad regime from committing further atrocities.

“The international failure to agree on a course of action over Syria is giving Assad courage to continue the brutal crackdown,” Davutoğlu noted.

Russia and China, political supporters of the Assad regime in Syria, wielded a double veto in a vote on a UN Security Council resolution calling on Assad to step aside, drawing the ire of international community. Since then, the Security Council, which is the only legal body able to decide on a military intervention to stop the violence in Syria, has been rendered ineffective.

Stressing that the crimes committed by the Assad regime are no different to war crimes, Davutoğlu remarked that “blocking humanitarian aid or not admitting UN representatives to Syria to offer emergency relief to the Syrian people is also a separate crime.”

In similar remarks to Davutoğlu, Terzi claimed that Assad had lost his credibility as a state leader, so he had to step down and to allow the election of a new leader, following the example of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen. Saleh resigned from power after anti-regime uprisings started in Yemen at the same time as the Syrian uprisings.

On Friday, Davutoğlu held a four-hour meeting with the Syrian National Council (SNC), which was presented as the “legal representative” of the Syrian people during an international conference held in Tunisia on Feb. 24. SNC representatives pressed Davutoğlu to initiate an immediate humanitarian assistance campaign for people in the besieged towns of Syria. The UN-estimated death toll in Syria since the beginning of the uprisings in March 2011 has reached 7,500.

22 Syrians enter Turkey on Saturday

Twenty-two Syrian nationals entered Turkey through the southern province of Hatay’s Reyhanli town on Saturday. Yusuf Güler, district governor of Reyhanli, told the Anatolia news agency that the group of 22 Syrians included children and women who escaped from ongoing clashes in Syria. According to Güler, the Syrians will stay at the tent city erected by Turkish charity Kızılay (Red Crescent) in Reyhanli. A total of 135 Syrians fled to Turkey on Friday, bringing the weekend total of Syrian refugees traveling to Turkey to more than 150.

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