Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has labeled the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad a 'terrorist state” that conducts massacres against its own people.
Erdogan made the statement to reporters at a news conference Wednesday following a meeting with his ruling AK Party (Justice and Development) in Ankara. "Syria is not an ordinary country to us,” he said, according to the AFP news agency. “We do not have the luxury to remain indifferent to what's happening there.”
Nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees have crossed the border into southeastern Turkey since the civil war began in March 2011 – including some 5,000 who entered the country in the past six weeks alone.
More than 200,000 Syrians have fled their native land in order to escape the carnage, as government troops shell residential neighborhoods with heavy artillery, and fire missiles using attack helicopters from Syria's own air force in retaliation against rebel forces.
Turkey has repeatedly urged the United Nations to protect displaced Syrians inside their country, but creating a buffer zone for displaced Syrians involves a Security Council resolution to set up a no-fly zone, something that would not be likely to win the approval of Russia and China -- two of the five permanent members of the Council.
Assad himself scoffed at the idea in a rare live interview broadcast two weeks ago on a private television channel owned by his cousin.
At least 23,000 people have died so far in the conflict that started when a youth scrawled an anti-government slogan on a wall in Dera'a, inspired by the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings last year. Government soldiers arrested the boy, who was later tortured for his “crime.”
A groundswell of protest roared across the country in response, and what began as a peaceful revolution has since transformed into a savage civil war with no end in sight.