The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Syria’s Bashar al-Assad of turning his guns on his own people and, after sending his foreign minister to Damascus on Tuesday, said he had given Assad a deadline.
“We hope that in the coming 10 or 15 days Syria will take the necessary steps to establish reform,” he said.
However it appears Ahmet Davutoglu did not take a message from Washington with him, as reported in the press. Turkey’s ambassador to Damascus did visit the city of Hama on Wednesday, which has been occupied by the army for the last 10 days, and confirmed that Syrian troops and armour have left. Turkish journalists are being allowed to visit the city on Thursday.
The city itself bears the scars of heavy weapons, and many homes have been abandoned and looted. The streets are empty, although people who had fled the unrest are beginning to return.
Although the tanks have left Hama, the military is on the move again along with truckloads of troops heading north-west towards the Turkish border and the towns of Taffanaz and Ibid. Tanks are also reported to have entering the town of Sermin and there has been fighting in Binnish.
The diplomatic intervention by Turkey, once one of Syria’s closest allies, is its strongest yet. Over 21,000 Syrian refugees are still in camps on Turkish soil.