Ankara mulls opening humanitarian corridor into Syria
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 6/16/2011 12:00:00 AM | SEVİL KÜÇÜKKOŞUM
Ankara will supply humanitarian aid for thousands of Syrian refugees amassing at Turkey’s border and could consider opening a corridor inside the Arab republic.
Ankara will supply humanitarian aid for thousands of Syrian refugees amassing at Turkey’s border and could consider opening a corridor inside the Arab republic in response to the uprising there, a Foreign Ministry official has said.
“There are at present more than 10,000 people just over Turkey’s border, on the other side of the barbed wire,” the official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Thursday.
Given the number of refugees fleeing President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on dissidents who have now arrived at the Turkish border, a humanitarian corridor could be opened on the Syrian side of the border, the official said, but added that such a decision would only be taken after observing further developments in the southern neighbor.
“We have decided to help our Syrian brothers meet their urgent needs for food. Other humanitarian assistance also will be provided,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters on Thursday, adding that the Syrian authorities had been informed about Ankara’s actions on the Syrian side of the border.
On Thursday, Davutoğlu conducted a four-hour meeting with Hasan Turkmani, al-Assad’s special envoy, to demand that Damascus take action to halt its military campaign to crush protests and launch immediate and substantial reforms that would placate international anger.
“Our meeting was fruitful and comprehensive. It was a meeting that mutual confidence has come to realize. I hope all we discussed will be actualized and that the tension will decrease. A comprehensive reform process toward democratization guaranteed by Bashar al-Assad … should be implemented,” Davutoğlu said.
The bloody assault by the Syrian regime, which Ankara has condemned as “inhumane,” has soured close relations between the two countries. The envoy held a three-hour meeting with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday.
“We want a strong Syria and want Syria to initiate a comprehensive reforms process to achieve this. In order to achieve this, violence must stop immediately,” Davutoğlu said.
Noting that he visited refugee camps in the southern province of Hatay on Wednesday, Davutoğlu said, “I saw fear in the eyes of those people.”
Davutoğlu also discussed recent developments in the Middle East, including Syria, during another meeting Thursday with Turkish ambassadors to the Middle East, the United States and some European Union countries.