Turkey FM to Deliver 'Stern Message' to Syria Over Violent Crackdown

Ahmet Davutoglu to arrive in Damascus to appeal for an end to the violence, says that Assad’s fate will be similar to that of Gadhafi if he does not stop 'butchering his people'.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has left for Damascus on Tuesday to press the Syrian leadership into ending the violent crackdown of the five-month old uprising.

Davutoglu's visit comes days after Turkey said its patience with its neighbor was running out. The Turkish Foreign Minister said that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s fate will be similar to that of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi if the does not stop 'butchering his people'.

Davutoglue and Assad - AP and Reuters
AP, Reuters

Envoys from India, Brazil and South Africa are also slated to arrive in Damascus on Tuesday to appeal for an end to the violence.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Davutoglu would deliver a strong message to Damascus. Turkey, until recently, had close ties to Damascus but has become increasingly critical of its neighbor over the bloodshed.

On Sunday, Syrian presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban criticized Turkey's reaction to the situation in her country, and said Davutoglu "will hear more critical words on the Turkish stand."

Meanwhile, the London-based pan Arab daily Al Sharq al-Awsat reported on Tuesday that the reason Syrian President Bashar Assad ousted his defense minister on Monday was due to the general's objections to the military's crackdown on protesters in Hama.

Ali Habib Mahmoud was reportedly against sending the Syrian army into cities and towns to clash with residents, and according to western diplomats, the ousted minister began talking about cracks in the leadership of the Syrian army regarding the violent repression of protesters.

Assad's government has been under mounting international and regional pressure to end violence against the protesters.

Both Kuwait and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors for consultation on Monday, 24 hours after Saudi Arabia recalled its envoy from Damascus.

Also, the world's oldest Sunni religious establishment, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, called for an end to the "tragedy" in Syria, saying the situation had "exceeded all limits."

More than 1,650 people and around 390 security personnel have been killed since protests calling for Assad to leave office began in mid-March, according to local human rights advocates.