Turkey pressures Assad, calls for regime change

Erdogan calls on Syrian PM to step down; Gul: "Syria is now at a dead end"; over 3,500 protesters dead so far.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Turkish leaders on Tuesday increased pressure on Syria to stop further bloodshed in repression of anti-government protests in which an estimated 3,500 people have been killed.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down in order to stop further bloodshed, and Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that neighboring Syria has reached a dead end. Gul added that change is inevitable, but everything must be done to prevent the country from descending into civil war.
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"Syria is now at a dead end so change is inevitable," Gul, who is on a state visit to Britain and is expected to meet Prime Minister David Cameron later on Tuesday, told the Guardian newspaper in an interview.
"But we don't believe the right way to create change is through external intervention. The people must make that change," he said. "Civil war is not something that anyone would want to see happen. Everything must be done to prevent it. It is very dangerous."
Britain has condemned Assad's actions as "appalling and unacceptable" and held talks on Monday with representatives of Syrian opposition groups.
Gul told the Guardian he had spoken to Assad regularly until a few months ago and advised him to allow free elections, free political prisoners and announce a clear timetable for reforms.
"It's quite too late for that sort of thing now," he told the newspaper. "He seems to have opted for a different route. And frankly we do not have any more trust in him."