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Middle East
Turkey steadfast on Syria sanctions
Erdogan joins EU officials in vow to step up measures against Damascus, despite failure of UN resolution.
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2011 19:38

Turkey has pledged to press ahead with plans to impose sanctions against the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on protests, a day after China and Russia vetoed a draft UN resolution condemning the violence.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said on Wednesday that his country and other nations would not be deterred by Tuesday's veto.

"Turkey and either some or all of the European Union nations, and who knows which others, will take steps,'' the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.

"It won't stop our sanctions. Out of necessity, our package of sanctions will come into effect,'' Erdogan said.

Turkey has already imposed an arms embargo on Syria. Erdogan is expected to announce new sanctions on its neighbour later this week when he visits camps near the border where some 10,000 Syrians have sought refuge from the crackdown.

His pledge came a day after Russia and China handed Damascus a diplomatic victory by blocking the Western-backed UN Security Council resolution. The draft threatened sanctions if the government of President Bashar al-Assad failed to end its crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador, told the council that Moscow's veto reflected "a conflict of political approaches" between Russia and the European council members.

He reiterated his concerns that passing the European resolution on Syria could have opened the door to a Libya-style military intervention in the Syrian authorities' six-month crackdown on anti-government demonstrations there.

Li Baodong, the Chinese ambassador, said that his country opposed the idea of "interference in [Syria's] internal affairs".

'Sad day for international law'

The vetoes infuriated some Western powers, with the US expressing "outrage" at the failed resolution and its ambassador walking out of the chamber in protest at a speech by Syria's envoy.

The foreign ministers of Germany, the UK and France also expressed dismay, issuing statements condemning the failure of the resolution.

Guido Westerwelle, German's foreign minister, said in Berlin on Wednesday that Russia's and China's decision to veto the resolution marked "a truly sad day for international law and for human rights".

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

The European Union was hammering out an eighth package of sanctions against Damascus, Westerwelle told reporters, without providing details.

His comments echoed those made by Alain Juppe and William Hague, his French and British counterparts.

Juppe denounced the Syrian leader as a "dictator who is massacring his people'' and vowed to support Syria's uprising.

Hague, addressing the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Wednesday, and also reiterated Britain's support for the Syrian people.

"The decision of Russia and China to veto this resolution, and to side with the brutal regime rather than with the people of Syria is deeply mistaken and regrettable," he said.

The EU passed a seventh round of sanctions against Syria on September 23, banning new investments in Syria's oil sector at home and abroad, and prohibiting delivery of bank notes to the central bank.

Continued violence

Amid the diplomatic wrangling, reports of violence continued in Syria on Wednesday.

At least six civilians were killed by security forces across the central Homs province, the Syrian Observatory for human rights and activists said, while four Syrian troops loyal to the government were reportedly killed in clashes between the army and defectors in the northwestern city of Idlib.

Syrian activists also said security forces arrested more than 300 people in Rastan town in Homs governorate alone in the last three days after launching a siege on defected troops there last week.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the situation in Rastan as extremely horrible, citing cases of dead bodies buried in garden yards and a number of homes destroyed.

The UN estimates Syria's crackdown has led to more than 2,700 deaths since mid-March.

Source:
Agencies
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