South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe (R) speaks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L)
South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe (R) speaks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) during an offical visit in Pretoria. Turkey on Tuesday voiced backing for a UN resolution slamming Syria's deadly crackdown on protesters, as a renegade Syrian colonel called for a united front to topple President Bashar al-Assad. © Jacoline Prinsloo - AFP/SOUTH AFRICAN DIRC
South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe (R) speaks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L)
AFP
Last updated: December 14, 2011

Turkey PM backs UN vote on Syria

Turkey on Tuesday voiced backing for a UN resolution slamming Syria's deadly crackdown on protesters, as a renegade Syrian colonel called for a united front to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking on a visit to South Africa, said he would back a draft resolution proposed by European nations at the UN Security Council against Syria's ruthless clampdown.

"The draft resolution before the council today is in the nature of sending a warning. We hope there will a positive outcome of this vote and that there will then be further discussions about whatever further steps need to be taken," he told a news conference.

The resolution also seeks to impose "targeted measures."

"Of course this situation is causing us sadness, because we are after all looking for justice and world peace," Erdogan said.

"We can no longer remain spectator to the developments in Syria. There are serious deaths of innocent, defenceless people. We cannot say 'this should continue'," Erdogan said.

South Africa holds one of the rotating seats on the Security Council and joined India and Brazil in August in urging an end to the violence.

The Turkish prime minister said he would this weekend or next week visit the camps of Hatay, near the Syrian border, where thousands of Syrians have taken refuge.

"We'll announce a roadmap regarding sanctions after a visit to Hatay," said Erdogan.

"We have already partially announced certain steps that cannot wait any longer," he added.

Turkey has expressed frustration with Assad for failing to listen to the people, whose almost daily pro-democracy rallies have been met with violent repression, at a cost of more than 2,700 lives according to the UN.

Last month, Turkey stopped a shipload of weapons destined for Syria.

A Syrian army colonel, Riad al-Asaad, who fled to neighbouring Turkey meanwhile told the Anatolia news agency that opposition forces back home should unite to topple Assad.

"Opponent forces in Syria should get united and close ranks until the regime collapses," he said.

The colonel defected after the Damascus regime's deadly crackdown on opponents and established an opposition armed force called the "Syrian Free Army," Anatolia reported.

"The regime has said they launched an operation to capture me in Rastan (a restive Syrian town between Homs and Hama) and said they captured me," the dissident said, adding that the Syrian army was disseminating such "false" news to pit Syrians against each other.

"I deny and condemn all the lies disseminated by the regime," he said.

On July 31, the colonel told AFP that he had defected and claimed he has "hundreds" of troops under his command ready to confront the regular army in the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor. His claim could not be independently verified.

"I warn the Syrian authorities that I will send my troops to fight with the (regular) army if they do not stop the operations in Deir Ezzor," he told AFP.

Deir Ezzor, the main oil- and gas-producing region in Syria, which produces 380,000 barrels of oil per day, has seen almost daily demonstrations against the regime.

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