Turkey urges Syrian opposition to use 'peaceful means'
ANKARA - Agence France-Presse
Demonstrators burn images of Syria's late President Hafez Al Assad Jan. 6. REUTERS photoTurkey has called on the Syrian opposition to continue its resistance against President Bashar al-Assad's regime through "peaceful means," a foreign ministry spokesman said Monday.
"The Syrian opposition demands democracy and we told them during a meeting yesterday (Sunday) that this should be done through peaceful means," the spokesman told AFP, referring to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's talks in Istanbul with the opposition Syrian National Council.
Davutoğlu's meeting with a 10-member delegation led by Burhan Ghalioun, leader of the Syrian National Council, is the third after his contacts with the group on October 13 and November 17, said the spokesman.
The Syrian National Council has an office in Istanbul, he noted.
Turkey, a onetime ally of Syria, has joined the Arab League in putting pressure the Damascus regime, whose crackdown on dissidents has claimed more than 5,000 lives according to UN figures.
A team of Arab League monitors has been in Syria since December 26, trying to assess whether Assad's regime is complying with a peace accord aimed at ending its deadly crackdown on dissent.
Critics say it has been completely outmanoeuvred by the government and has failed to make any progress towards stemming the crackdown. They have called for the mission to pull out.
Turkey has repeatedly called on the Syrian leadership to stop the deadly crackdown on opponents.
Ankara says that around 7,500 Syrians have fled across the border with its southern neighbour in the face of the crackdown.
Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad, who heads a group of defectors called the Free Syrian Army, is based in a Turkish border camp.
But Turkish officials have said repeatedly that Ankara will not let its territory be used to launch attacks against the Syrian regime after Syria-based news reports cited armed groups' infiltrations from the Turkish side.