Erdogan: Turkey will take ‘steps’ if Syria disregards ceasefire deadline

Turkish PM does not specify what measures Turkey could take; Ankara has in the past floated the idea of creating a buffer zone inside Syria.

Turkey’s prime minister says the country will wait “patiently” to see if Syria abides by a cease-fire deadline, but may take certain “steps” if the violence does not stop after that.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not specify Saturday what measures Turkey would take. But Ankara has in the past floated the idea of creating a buffer zone inside Syria if refugee flows become overwhelming.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Reuters - 5.4.2012

Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing the media in Ankara - Photo by: Reuters

Officials say nearly 700 Syrians have crossed into Turkey since Friday, raising the number of refugees to 24,324. Turkey has also said it would seek UN assistance if the influx continues.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has accepted a cease-fire deadline brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan, which calls for his forces to pull out of towns and cities by Tuesday.

Earlier Saturday, opposition activists said that about 80 people were killed by Syrian forces, calling it a “day of unabated killings,” coming despite overnight criticism of the killings of civilians from the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“I can confirm that so far 80 people have been killed in Syria on Saturday,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told DPA by phone.

“More than 40, including women and children, were killed … in the area of al-Latmana in [central province of Hama],” he added.

Most of the deaths were civilians in the central provinces of Hama and Homs, said the activists. The areas are key opposition bastions in a revolt against the rule of President Bashar Assad.

At least 36 people were killed when military forces shelled the area of al-Latmana in Hama, reported the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Four others were killed in a military attack on the area of Tibat al-Imam on the outskirts of Hama, added the Britain-based observatory.

Three civilians, including a woman and her child, were killed when security forces attacked the area of al-Kussiar in Homs, said the group.

Rebels, meanwhile, attacked the Minakh air base, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria’s third-largest city, said activists.

There were no reports about casualty figures.

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By The Associated Press and DPA