Turkey has decided to impose economic and financial sanctions on the Syrian regime over its bloody crackdown on the opposition, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday.
He said the Syrian regime was "at an impasse" and "prefers to repress its people rather than engage in democratic reforms."
Davutoglu announced an immediate ban on transactions with the Syrian government and central bank and a freeze on Syrian government assets in Turkey.
Similar measures will be taken against "some well-known businessmen who are strong advocates of the Syrian regime," he added.
Further measures include a ban on Syrian officials visiting Turkey and halting the transfer of arms and military equipment to the Syrian army.
Turkey will also suspend the high-level strategic council mechanism under which a dozen ministers from both countries convened a few times a year to discuss joint projects before the uprising began in March.
Ankara's measures come after Arab foreign ministers agreed on Sunday a list of sweeping sanctions designed to cripple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has defied international pressure to halt a bloody crackdown on protests.
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Davutoglu underlined that Turkey would not take any measures that would harm the Syrian people and warned the government would contemplate "additional measures" according to the steps taken by the Syrian administration.
Turkey's sanctions aimed at punishing the Syrian regime are likely to dent trade ties between the two countries. Current trade volume stands at around 2.5 billion dollars (1.87 billion euros), favourable to Turkey.
Syria is also a major transit country for Turkey's trade with Middle Eastern countries.
Turkey, a one-time ally of Syria, is increasingly concerned about the regime's crackdown on dissidents.
Davutoglu called on the Syrian leadership to fulfil people's legitimate demands as soon as possible, saying that was the only way out of the current impasse.
"At this difficult time, Turkey will continue to stand by the Syrian people resolutely because we strongly believe that we share a common future with Syrian people and will build it together," he said.
Turkey has stepped up criticism of Assad's crackdown on opposition protests since Turkish diplomatic missions came under attack by pro-government demonstrators in several Syrian cities earlier this month.
Tensions worsened when two busloads of Turkish pilgrims who were in Syria on their way back from the hajj in Mecca were attacked by Syrian gunmen.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week urged his one-time ally to step down, becoming the second regional leader to do so after Jordan's King Abdullah.