Davutoglu Meets Assad as Syria Violence Escalates

Syrian President Bashar Assad with Ahmet Davutoglu

DAMASCUS, Syria (Agence France Presse)—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad promised on Aug. 9 an unceasing battle against the “terrorist groups” that his regime has accused of being responsible for the deadly violence that has wracked Syria since March.

“We will not waiver in our pursuit of terrorist groups,” Assad told visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, according to state news agency SANA.

Davutoglu’s visit to Damascus was to pass on Ankara’s message that it “has run out of patience” with the ongoing violence, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier.

He said Turkey “cannot remain a spectator” to current events in the country with which it shares a border as well as historic and cultural links.”

“We do not consider the problems in Syria a question of foreign policy but a domestic matter,” Erdogan said. “We must listen to the voices coming from over there, listen to them and do what is necessary.”

Assad met Davutoglu in the presence of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, the pro-government Dunia television channel reported.

The mission comes after Saudi Arabia and two other Arab states in the Gulf withdrew their ambassadors from Damascus, in a development that both “encouraged” and “heartened” the United States.

Assad named a new defense minister on Aug. 8 as he faced growing regional isolation and Sunni Islam’s top authority urged an end to the bloodshed.

Ankara, whose ties with Damascus have flourished in recent years, has called on Assad to initiate reforms but has stopped short of calling for his departure.

On their Facebook page, “Syrian Revolution 2011,” an engine of the uprising, invited Davutoglu to “come and pray” in a Damascus mosque “to find out from close up of the demands of the Syrian people.”

The regime’s repression of Syria’s pro-democracy uprising has left more than 2,050 people dead, including almost 400 members of the security forces, the Syrian Observatory says.

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