Turkey cites Srebrenica in appeal for action on Syria
By Nick Tattersall and Ece Toksabay, Reuters
October 14, 2012, 2:19 pm TWN
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rebuked the U.N. Security Council for inaction over Syria on Saturday, saying the world body was repeating mistakes that led to massacres in Bosnia in the 1990s.
President Bashar al-Assad's forces used air strikes and artillery to bombard insurgents on several fronts in Syria, as the 19-month-old conflict risks dragging in regional powers.
Turkey is increasingly entangled after intercepting a Syrian airliner carrying what it said were Russian-made munitions for the Syrian army, infuriating Moscow and Damascus. It has led calls for intervention, including no-fly zones enforced by foreign aircraft to stop deadly air raids by Assad's forces.
But there is little chance of U.N. support for robust action. China insists any solution to Syria's crisis must come from within while Russia has said many Syrians still support Assad. Western nations meanwhile are loath to commit to any military action that could touch off a regional sectarian war.
"The U.N. Security Council has not intervened in the human tragedy that has been going on in Syria for 20 months, despite all our efforts," Erdogan told a conference in Istanbul attended by leaders including Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby. "There's an attitude that encourages, gives the green light to Assad to kill tens or hundreds of people every day."
The bloodshed has worsened markedly in the past two months although neither side has been able to gain a distinct advantage, with government forces relying heavily on air power and artillery to batter the rebels.
Combat has been reported nationwide but the crucial strategic battles are being fought in an arc through western Syria, where most of the population lives.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Libya's wartime rebel Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril to discuss Syria on the sidelines of the Istanbul conference.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week Brahimi would visit Syria soon to try to persuade Assad to call an immediate ceasefire.
The Syrian government dispatched warplanes to attack insurgent forces surrounding the Wadi-al-Dayf military barracks near Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province, wounding 22 rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The rebels captured Maarat al-Numan this week, cutting the main north-south highway linking Damascus, Homs and Aleppo, and government forces will need to retake it in order to reinforce and resupply Aleppo - Syria's largest city and commercial hub.