Turkey condemns 'heinous assassination' of Syrian Kurd leader
Assailants shot Mishaal al-Tammo dead on Friday in the Syrian city of Qamishli, and two people were killed when gunmen opened fire during Tammo's funeral as mourners began chanting anti-Assad slogans.
Turkey has condemned the killing of an ethnic Kurdish leader in Syria and warned President Bashar Assad's government that violent suppression of the opposition "cannot turn back the course of history".
Unidentified assailants shot dead Mishaal al-Tammo on Friday in the Syrian city of Qamishli, and two people were killed when gunmen opened fire during Tammo's funeral on Saturday as some of the 50,000 mourners began chanting anti-Assad slogans.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said he plans to impose sanctions on former ally Syria, to try to put pressure on Assad to halt a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters who first took to the streets in March.
"We are deeply saddened by the heinous assassination of Mishaal al-Tammo, leader of the Syrian Kurdish Future Party," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website late on Saturday evening.
Turkey also decried an assault on another leading Syrian opposition figure, Riad Seif. Syrian activists have posted footage on Youtube.com allegedly showing the former lawmaker being beaten in front of a mosque in Damascus.
"Turkey expects the Syrian Administration to realize as soon as possible that the acts of violence designed to suppress the opposition in Syria cannot turn back the course of history," the ministry said.
After cultivating ties with Syria for several years, Turkey has this year robustly condemned the repression of peaceful protests, fearing that violence in Syria could spill across the border if it develops a stronger ethnic or sectarian dimension.
Turkey is trying to quell a long-running Kurdish insurgency in parts of its southeast, while Kurds in Syria have long complained of discrimination and staged violent protests against Assad in 2004.
Syrian opposition figures have met in Istanbul to forge a united front, the Syrian National Council. Turkey has also given sanctuary to Syrian military officers who have defected.
Last week the NATO member began military exercises in Hatay province, where Syria has a long-standing territorial claim.
U.N. estimates put the number of people killed since the unrest broke out at around 2,900, while Syrian officials say 1,100 security personnel have been killed.
Due to the death of his mother, Erdogan postponed plans to visit a refugee camp on Sunday that shelters some of the 7,000 Syrians who have fled over the border to southeastern Turkey.
Despite the breakdown in their relationship, Assad sent Erdogan a message of condolence. On Saturday, a key aide to Iran's supreme leader warned Turkey to radically rethink its policies on Syria, on hosting a NATO missile shield and on promoting Muslim secularism in the Arab world, or face trouble from its own people and neighbors.