Turkey Increases Pressure on Syria to Stop Violence Against Civilians

Erdogan calls Assad to urge restraint, while Turkish envoy meets with Syrian PM to express concern over loss of life in anti-government protests.

Turkey on Tuesday increased pressure on Syria to cease its brutal crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators, a day after Syrian troops backed by tanks and snipers stormed a southern city, where the dead reportedly lay unclaimed in the streets.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan phoned Syrian President Bashar Assad to urge restraint while Turkey's ambassador to Damascus met Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar to express Turkey's deep concern and sorrow over loss of many lives, the prime minister's office and the Turkish media reported.

Erdogan called Assad a day after he and U.S. President Barack Obama voiced their concern in a telephone conversation over what the White House called the Syrian government's unacceptable use of violence against its own people.

The Syrian army launched a deadly raid on the southern Syrian city of Daraa before dawn Monday, killing at least 11 people. Gunfire echoed in Daraa, where the uprising in Syria started more than a month ago, on Tuesday as residents said the dead still lay in the streets.

Turkey shares a long land border with Syria and fears the turmoil could trigger an influx of refugees. However, most of the 877-kilometer border is heavily mined and a mass influx of refugees is not expected.

As a NATO ally, Turkey has cultivated warm relations with countries such as Libya and Syria as part of a regional outreach that included nations with a history of enmity with the West.

Now Turkey is scrambling to preserve economic and other links to Mideast nations while urging their autocrats to meet the demands of protesters who want change.