Despite the Russian initiative to forestall a military strike against Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolu repeated, once more, that Turkey wanted military action against the Assad regime.
Davutoglu emphasised Turkey’s belief that the chemical attack that took place in Damascus on August 21st against local people had been made by the Assad regime.
“Such an attack can only be performed with missiles by experienced experts, that kind who are only held by the Syrian regime,” he stated regarding the chemical attacks in Homs and Damascus.
Russia made the suggestion that Assad surrender any chemical weapons he might have and allow the international community to take and destroy them. President Assad promptly agreed. In response, Davutoglu said that the Assad regime would gain time and allow for more massacres if the international community took time to make an inventory of weapons. He said that it would take months to achieve and would give Assad the “green light” to attack his own citizens once again.
The attack was conducted to punish the civilian people and stop them supporting the opposition, Davutoglu said.
Replying to questions about the possible threats to Turkey, if it it should take part in a military attack against Syria, Davutoglu said there could be a threat but gave no timetable for any military operation that might be launched.
“Despite harsh criticisms during the installation of Patriot missiles in Turkey, we have taken all necessary measures to protect our people,” Davutoglu said, adding that the refugee situation in the country was also being handled well. “Turkey has managed the refugee crisis quite well, in a way that other countries admire,” he said.
The official number of Syrian refugees in Turkey recently surpassed 200,000, but the total number is estimated to be in excess of 400,000.
The foreign minister also said the Turkish government had made efforts to mediate between the Assad regime and the opposition for about 10 months, while rejecting that the government had become excessively involved with the opposition.
“We have never provided any kind of support to the al-Nusra front in Syria,” he said, while reiterating the government’s support for the “moderate” and civil opposition, the Syria National Coalition (SNC).
In response to accusations of launching the chemical weapons in Damascus, President Assad resolutely denied any responsibility, saying that there was not “a shred of evidence”. He also indicated that there would be retaliation if any military strike against Syria should take place.
Meanwhile, US President Obama has said he would delay a military strike against Syria if the Assad regime agrees to place its chemical weapons under international control.
The US president said he was “absolutely” prepared to pause plans for military action – but was sceptical that Syria would relinquish control.