DAMASCUS – Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in Syria yesterday to demand an end to a crackdown on protests by President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is running out of patience over “the savagery” of Syria’s security forces towards protesters, according to BBC News.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have all recalled their envoys to Damascus. Syrian forces continued their offensive on restive parts of the country, witnesses and rights activists said. Tanks went into Binnish in the Syrian province of Idlib, bordering Turkey, and the eastern city of Deir al-Zour in the third day of an army offensive there, they said.
Syrian state TV has reported that Assad has appointed a new minister of defence, former army chief of staff Gen Dawoud Rajha. He replaces Gen Ali Habib, said the report. Prime Minister Erdogan delivered a tough message over the weekend, not just saying he had run out of patience but pointing out that from Turkey’s point of view the Syrian crisis was almost an internal problem of Turkey – their shared border is over 800km long. Davutoglu may threaten Turkish support for stronger action by the UN Security Council, although few believe he will have much success. There is yet no suggestion yet that Ankara will downgrade its diplomatic ties, or impose economic sanctions. President Assad’s spokeswoman has already warned of an equally tough reply from Damascus.