Turkish PM accuses Syria of atrocities
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Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed the Syrian regime for perpetrating atrocities against anti-government demonstrators. He described as "unacceptable” the brutal crackdown by security forces which has killed more than1,000 protesters since 15 March.
Erdogan has piled pressure to initiate reform on President Bashar al-Assad who is a personal friend, but has so far stopped short of calling for him to step down.
He is quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying that “unfortunately they [the Syrian authorities] do not behave humanely", adding that he could not defence such actions.
Erdogan also reiterated that Turkey would keep the doors open for refugee waves from Syria. The arrivals have sharply increased since Tuesday, with more refugees fleeing the flashpoint town of Jisr al-Shurghur some 40 kilometres from the Turkish border where tensions have flared amid accusations by Damascus that demonstrators killed 120 police officers.
The Turkish foreign minister said the number of Syrians who have fled to Turkey increased to 2,500 on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Syria’s army on Friday launched an attack on what it described as “armed gangs” in Jisr al-Shughur claiming the raid had been launched at the request of the town’s residents.
The government blames the alleged gangs for Tuesday's deaths but opposition activists say the deaths were due to a mutiny by troops who refused orders to crack down on protesters.
The International Red Cross called on Friday for immediate access to Syria to provide humanitarian assistance and assess the conditions in which those arrested by the regime are being held.
“We are determined to assist people who are having to cope with with the violence,” said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger. “And we are determined to visit those who have been detained.”
In Paris, pro-democracy activists are to hold more protests on Friday against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
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