Erdogan to Assad: You Can't Speak of Reform as People are Being Killedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Turkey's ambassador to Damascus visited Syrian's flashpoint protest hub of Hama, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday, as Syrian army vehicles left the town.
"Our ambassador went to Hama and said that the tanks, security forces had started to leave Hama. This is highly important to show that our initiatives had positive results," Erdogan said in televised remarks, addressing his party members in Ankara.
"We hope that all these will be completed within a 10 to 15 day period," he added.
Slamming the Syrian regime’s violent crackdown on the protest movement, Erdogan went on to say: “The Syrian authorities are pointing guns at their own people and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian authorities can’t talk about reforms while the Syrian people are being killed.”
“You can’t fool the Syrian people nor the world and don’t forget that the legitimacy of any rule is derived from listening to people and representing their will,” the Turkish leader added, addressing the Syrian authorities.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Syria Tuesday and held talks with the Assad about ways of ending the bloodshed and implementing democratic reforms.
"We hope that some measures will be taken in the coming days to end the bloodshed and open the way for a process of political reform," Davutoglu had said at Ankara airport on his return.
Following the recent crackdown in the Syrian city of Hama that left dozens dead, Erdogan announced Sunday that Davutoglu would convey to the Damascus regime that Ankara was "at the end of its patience" in the face of such violent repression by Syrian forces.
The Hama visit of Turkish envoy Omer Onhon was part of the agreement between Syria and Turkey that had been reached Tuesday, Davutoglu said in his televised remarks at a press conference Wednesday.
"It is confirmed that tanks and artillery were withdrawn from the city of Hama. But it is understood that the city lacks liveliness," Davutoglu said, based on the preliminary information he received from Onhon.
"There is some military presence on the road to Hama, although not around the city. There are some checkpoints within the city," he said.
Davutoglu said it was important that envoy Onhon found the opportunity to have direct contact with people in Hama.
"He visited almost all by streets of Hama with our diplomatic team and he was together with people for the noon prayer," Davutoglu said.
"The critical thing is that Syria should be open to the world for the developments to be followed. The most important tool to end the speculations and debate is free media access," Davutoglu said.
Last month Syria furiously reacted to the visit of French and U.S. ambassadors to Hama and warned to impose a ban on any diplomatic travel outside Damascus.
Forty personnel carriers decked with Syrian flags rolled out of Hama with soldiers chanting slogans praising embattled Assad, said an Agence France Presse reporter who visited the city on a tour organized by the authorities.
The Syrian authorities on Wednesday escorted some 60 journalists to Hama, where Assad's regime said troops went in to fight "armed terrorist gangs" the president accuses of fuelling the violence.
Troops backed by tanks stormed Hama on July 31, the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, killing 100 people in the single bloodiest day since the crackdown began, activists say.
The regime has sought to crush weeks of protests with brutal force, killing more than 1,600 civilians and arresting at least 12,000 of dissenters, rights activists say.