Turkey is not ruling out international intervention in Syria, if President Bashar Assad's regime continues its military crackdown against civilians, a senior official in Ankara told Turkey-based Hurriyet paper on Saturday.
The source said that Turkish President Abdullah Gul sent a letter to his Syrian counterpart through Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in which he delivered an ultimatum to Damascus, demanding to end all violence against protesters.
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"Up until now, we've tried to convince the Western nations to give Assad more time to implement reforms. We were as friendly as we could be – we held joint cabinet meetings and canceled the need for visas," Hurriyet quoted the source as saying.
"But if the Syrian regime doesn't listen to our advice, as their friend and neighbor, and continues to shoot on its own people – we can no longer be Turkey's friend," he noted.
'Turkey afraid of spill over'
Another Turkish official explained why Ankara was slowly losing its patience: "Syria is controlled by a religious minority that is closely linked to the Shiite majority in Iran.
"Further escalation of tensions might cause the violence to spill over to neighboring states, including Iraq. Naturally, and because many Muslim sects live in these areas, Turkey is concerned with such developments," the source said.
Meanwhile, the Syrian security forces carried on with the violent crackdown of uprisings across the country.
On Friday, tens of thousands of protesters shouted for President Bashar Assad's death in a dramatic escalation of their rage and frustration, defying bullets and rooftop snipers after more than a week of intensified military assaults on rebellious cities, activists and witnesses have said.
Security forces killed at least 14 protesters, according to human rights groups.
Calls for Assad's execution were a stark sign of how much the protest movement has changed since it erupted in March seeking minor reforms but making no calls for regime change. The protests grew dramatically over the five months that followed, driven in part by anger over the government's bloody crackdown in which rights groups say at least 1,700 civilians have been killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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