ANKARA/DAMASCUS – Syria’s ferocious crackdown against demonstrators persisted on Monday, but its tough actions against civilians are shattering its once-close relations with neighboring Turkey. Turkish President Abdullah Gul said his country has “lost its confidence” in Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime, the latest setback for the much-reviled Arab government, CNN said.
World powers have deplored the government’s actions against protesters as Syria’s isolation grows. Turkey long has had strong influence and close political and economic relations with the al-Assad regime. But the relations became cold when the crackdown started and when Syrians fleeing the violence crossed the border into Turkey.
Meanwhile, military and security forces Monday stormed the town of Sarmin, in northwestern Idlib province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group with a network of contacts across the country. Five people died, including a child, and more than 60 people were wounded. Dozens of people have been arrested, they observatory said.
Syrian tanks and armoured vehicles have also surrounded the town of Rastan, north of Homs, which has been the site of anti-regime dissent, activists say, according to the BBC.
And Syrian opposition leaders meeting in Ankara, have announced the formation of a Transitional National Council to provide political leadership for the uprising. The council will be made up of 94 members, including some leaders still inside Syria and others outside.