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Syria - France - Turkey

Too late for Assad to stay in power, says France's Juppé

REUTERS/Stringer

"It is now too late" for the Syrian regime to hang onto power, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said on Friday on a visit to Turkey. Fresh protests were planned in Syria Friday to call for the further isolation of Bashar al-Assad’s government.

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"We believe that the [Assad] regime was not willing to implement a reform programme and now it is too late," Juppé said after a meeting with the Turkish parliament's foreign relations committee head, Volkan Bozkir, in Ankara.

And civil war is now possible, according to Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, talking to the AFP news agency.

Pointing to recent attacks by army deserters, now organised in the Free Syrian Army, Davutoglu said “there is a risk of transforming into civil war” and called for the implementation of the Arab League’s peace plan.

The Arab League on Wednesday gave Syria three days to stop repression and allow observers to enter the country or face economic sanctions.

Davutoglu said that Turkey was ready to help the opposition Syrian National Council to develop its contacts within Syria and with foreign powers.

The US earlier disagreed with Russia's claim that the Free Syrian Army attacks raised the risk of civil war.

"If it [Moscow] characterises it as a civil war, we view that it is very much the Assad regime carrying out a campaign of violence, intimidation and repression against innocent protesters," Toner said.

The Syrian opposition called for more demonstrations on Friday to urge countries to expel Syrian ambassadors and further isolate Damascus.

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