Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara "is a man of reason" who could replace President Bashar Assad, AFP quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as saying on Saturday.
According to AFP, Davutoğlu said on Turkish television channel TRT: "Farouq al-Shara is a
man of reason and conscience and he has not taken part in the massacres
in Syria. Nobody knows the (Syrian) system better than he."
to the report, the Turkish foreign minister stressed that the Syrian
opposition "is inclined to accept Shara" as the future leader of the
Davutoglu also said he was convinced that the Syrian vice president was still in Syria, despite reports that al-Shara defected.
appointed six years ago after the defection of Abdul-Halim Khaddam, is a
Sunni Muslim from the southern Deraa province where the 17-month-old
uprising against the Alawite president first erupted.
The 73-year-old former foreign minister kept a low profile
as the rebellion against Assad escalated, but appeared in public in
July at a state funeral for three of Assad's top security officials
killed in a bomb attack in Damascus.
Relations between Ankara and Damascus have deteriorated rapidly after Syrian shells killed five Turkish villagers
last week when they were fired across the border. Turkish strikes have
since continued for four days in retaliation for mortar bombs and
shelling by Syrian forces.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
warned Damascus last week Turkey would not shy away from war if
provoked. Erdogan said his country did not want war but warned Syria not
to make a "fatal mistake" by testing its resolve. Damascus said its
fire hit Turkey accidentally.
NATO-member Turkey, once an ally of Assad, but
now a leading voice in calls for him to quit, has nearly 100,000 Syrian
refugees in camps on its territory and has allowed rebel leaders
sanctuary. Its armed forces are far larger than Syria's.
The strikes and counter-strikes
are the most serious cross-border violence in Syria's conflict, which
began as a democracy uprising but has evolved into a civil war with
sectarian overtones. They highlight how the crisis could destabilize the
Reuters contributed to this report.