Turkey's Erdogan Urges Assad to 'Finally Step Down' for Sake of Mideast Peace

Turkish prime minister says President Assad must go 'without spilling any more blood'; Syria activists report at least 9 killed by Assad forces in Homs, Hama areas.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called on Tuesday for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down for the sake of peace in the region and to stop any more bloodshed.

"Without spilling any more blood, without causing any more injustice, for the sake of peace for the people, the country and the region, finally step down," Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling AK Party.


Tuesday saw further violence in Syria, as activists reported that forces loyal to the Assad regime had killed four villagers near Homs. Earlier, an activist based in northern Lebanon said that the Homs area was surrounded by security forces.

"The neighborhood of al-Bayyada area is now completely surrounded by the gangs of (Syrian President Bashar) Assad who are backed by army tanks," the activist said.

Syria's state media said that "the Syrian army is carrying out a military operation in the neighborhood in search for "armed gangs who are terrorizing the civilians."

Syrian troops also reportedly stormed areas on the outskirts of the capital Damascus Tuesday in a search for army defectors, activists based in Beirut told dpa.

The move by the Syrian army came after defectors a week ago attacked a base of the Syrian airforce intelligence.

Meanwhile, sound of heavy machine gun fire was heard across the area of Douma, near Damascus, Syrian activist Omar Ildibi said.

On Monday, 20 people were killed, most of whom were from the al-Bayyada neighborhood, in attacks carried by the Syrian security forces.