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November 17, 2011

Turkey Follows Russia, Warns of Syrian Civil War

There are new warnings that the situation in Syria could descend into civil war.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the French news agency Friday that fighting between Syrian army defectors and the government runs "a risk of transforming into civil war."  He also said the elevated tensions make now the "right time" to stop the massacre.

Davutoglu's warning comes just one day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters an attack by the Free Syrian Army on a Syrian military base this week was "very much like a civil war."

Lavrov urged all sides to resolve their differences peacefully, a call echoed by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

Juppe, in Ankara Friday for meetings with Turkish officials, also warned the Syrian government it can no longer stay in power.  Juppe told the French news agency "it is now too late" for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Separately, Juppe also called for sharper sanctions against Damascus.

International pressure for Assad to step down has been mounting.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Assad's uncle, an exiled former Syrian military commander, both called Thursday for the Syrian leader to leave power.

Meanwhile, Syrian rights groups said security forces killed five more people across the country Thursday in what is now an eight-month long government crackdown on protesters.

News of the deaths in Deir Ezzor, Homs, and Idlib, came Thursday from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.

Earlier this week, Arab League ministers on gave Syria's government an ultimatum to end the bloodshed within three days to end the bloodshed and allow in teams of observers to monitor compliance.  They did not say what will happen if Damascus fails to comply.

The league also voted to suspend Syria's membership.

Syria is only the third nation in the Arab League's history to be suspended.

The United Nations says at least 3,500 people have been killed in connection with the Syrian revolt since March. Syria blames much of the violence on foreign-backed terrorists and religious extremists.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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