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Turkey ready for anything in Syria

30 November 2011, 08:53

Istanbul - Turkey does not want to consider a military option for intervention in neighbouring Syria as Damascus cracks down on popular protest, but it is ready for any scenario, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday.

Davutoglu also said the international community may decide a buffer zone is needed in Syria if hundreds of thousands of people try to flee the violence there.

Syria is facing growing economic sanctions and condemnation over what the United Nations calls "gross human rights violations", but President Bashar al-Assad shows no sign of buckling under pressure to end his military crackdown on protesters calling for his overthrow.

Davutoglu told Kanal 24 TV that the Syrian government needed to find a way to make peace with its own people, adding that Damascus still had a chance to accept international observers proposed by the Arab League.

"If the oppression continues, Turkey is ready for any scenario. We hope that a military intervention will never be necessary. The Syrian regime has to find a way of making peace with its own people," he said.

A regime which tortures its own people had no chance of survival, he added.

Another minister said Turkey would conduct trade with the Middle East via Iraq if the violence worsened in Syria.

Transport Minister Binali Yildirim made the comments after the Arab League imposed sanctions on Damascus over the crackdown, in which more than 3 500 people have been killed in eight months, according to the United Nations.

Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency quoted Yildirim on Tuesday as saying that Ankara would open new border gates with Iraq if necessary.

Selective sanctions

Ankara is expected to follow the Arab League in imposing sanctions on Syria, with which it has an 800km border.

Yildirim said the sanctions would not harm the Syrian people. "We plan to conduct transit shipments through new border gates in Iraq if the conditions in Syria worsen," Yildirim said.

Turkey will selectively impose those sanctions announced by the Arab League to avoid harming the Syrian people, the Turkish newspaper Sabah reported on Tuesday.

The Arab League imposed the sanctions on Sunday and the European Union weighed in one day later.

Sabah said Syrian government accounts at the Turkish central bank will be suspended, official sales to the Syrian state will be halted and a travel ban will be imposed on Assad and his family.

However, civil aviation flights will not be halted and Turkish Airlines services to Damascus will continue. It did not identify sources for the story.

Turkey will also avoid measures which would harm truck trade on the border. The flow of water and electricity to Syria will also not be restricted so as not to affect the people of Syria.

The paper said the Arab League measures were discussed at a meeting of Turkish ministers on Sunday night and will be imposed after approval from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

- Reuters

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