LONDON // The Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, warned yesterday that the Syrian president's violent crackdown on an eight-month-old revolt threatened to "drag the whole region into turmoil and bloodshed".
Mr Gul's fears for regional stability followed a searing attack by the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the day before when he accused president Bashar Al Assad of "cowardice" for turning guns on his own people, evoking comparisons with Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. Mr Erdogan told his former friend to quit.
In a sign that Turkish leaders may be moving past vitriolic rhetoric on Syria, once considered the Nato member's friendliest neighbour, Turkish media reported that the country's land commander had inspected troops near the border. "We exerted enormous efforts in public and behind closed doors in order to convince the Syrian leadership to lead the democratic transition," Mr Gul said in a speech in London.
"Violence breeds violence. Now, unfortunately, Syria has come to a point of no return," he told a think tank.
Yesterday, activists said the death toll from a day of security raids and violence in Syria had risen to at least 28 people. Two main activist groups, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordinating Committees, documented the deaths, which were reported in the central cities of Hama and Homs, the eastern city of Deir El Zour and elsewhere.
The United Nations said 3,500 people have been killed in the uprising, triggered by Arab revolts that have toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Syria, which blames the unrest on "armed terrorist groups", has barred most independent media.
On Tuesday, the General Assembly's human-rights committee adopted a non-binding resolution that called on Syrian authorities to implement an Arab League peace plan, agreed to earlier this month, "without further delay". It also urged the withdrawal of government tanks from the streets, the release of political prisoners, a halt to attacks on civilians and allowing observers into the country.
* Reuters with additional reports from Associated Press