Syrian opposition groups have been welcomed in London for talks with Britain’s foreign secretary as international pressure increases on the Assad regime.
The talks follow the expiry of an Arab League deadline for President Bashar al Assad to stop his repression of protesters.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
“ I have expressed the view we’ve held since the summer that the Assad regime should go, that is the the best thing for the future of Syria. But I’ve also emphasised the importance to them of achieving a united platform and a unified body among the opposition.”
Turkey is a robust critic of its neighbour and despite previously cordial ties with Assad. Ankara is now considering sanctions over the rising death toll among protesters.
Addressing a conference in Istanbul, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan said: “If you believe in yourself you call for elections and if those ballot boxes take you to power, then you can rule that country. But you can remain in power with tanks and cannons only up to a certain point.”
Erdogan’s remarks came amid reports that gunmen opened fire on a convoy of Turkish buses carrying pilgrims to Syria. Unconfirmed witness accounts claim the attackers were Syrian soldiers.