Turkey urges response to 'crime against humanity' in Syria

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 27, 2013 6:22 AM
Turkey urges response to 'crime against humanity' in Syria

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday a poison gas attack in Syria last week which killed hundreds of people constituted a "crime against humanity" and poses a test for the international community.

The United States has faced growing calls for action in response to the August 21 attack. In the most forceful U.S. reaction yet, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday President Barack Obama believed there must be "accountability" for those who used chemical weapons.

Davutoglu told reporters: "This is a crime against humanity and a crime against humanity should not go unanswered, what needs to be done must be done." He said that like many states, Turkey blamed Bashar al-Assad's government for the attack. "Today, it is clear the international community is faced with a test."

Davutoglu reiterated that Ankara's priority was for the U.N. Security Council to come to a united stance on Syria. He said previously, however, that Turkey would join any international coalition if such a consensus proved impossible.

Turkey, a NATO member bordering Syria, has emerged as one of Assad's most vocal critics during the two-and-a-half year conflict, sheltering half a million refugees and allowing Syrian rebels to organize on its soil.

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Davutoglu said he had spoken to Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Monday to explain Turkey's position, saying that if there was no response to last week's attack it would give a green light for worse violence.

(Reporting by Jonathon Burch and Duygu Erdogan; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Mark Heinrich)