Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday firmly rejected a Syrian proposal to hold a joint probe over a twin car bomb attack that killed 51 people.
“The administration in power in Damascus is illegal ... how can we recognize a structure that isn’t even recognized by its own citizens,” Erdogan told reporters before leaving for a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Thursday, according to the AFP news agency.
Syria said earlier Tuesday it was willing to carry out a joint investigation with Turkey into the deadly attacks in the border town of Reyhanli that Ankara has accused Damascus of masterminding.
“If the government of [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan calls for a joint, transparent investigation by the two countries, we have no objection, in order to find the truth,” Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi had said.
“The truth must be announced to the Syrian and Turkish people,” he was quoted as saying by state media.
On Sunday, Al-Zoubi blamed the attack on Turkey, saying the Turkish government turned the border areas with Syria into "international terrorist concentrations," and turned the Turkish civilians' houses, farms and properties into centers and passages for terrorist groups.
He added that the Turkish government has been facilitating the delivery of weapons, explosive devices, car bombs, money and killers into Syria.
Saturday’s twin car bombings also wounded dozens. Turkish police have arrested 13 suspects.
Erdogan also announced his government would present a “road map” on the Syrian crisis after his return from the United States.
“We will come up with a road map after our talks and we will act in accordance,” he said but did not give details.
Erdogan called his country “the first victim of the Syrian crisis in the region,” according to AFP.
“We cannot just stand by watching what’s happening,” he added, bemoaning a lack of consensus at the UN Security Council on a resolution that would condemn Damascus.
Ankara has sided with the rebels fighting to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad and has taken in around 400,000 refugees as well as army defectors, prompting a crisis in ties with the Syrian regime.
The crisis will be at the center of Erdogan’s talks with Obama.
Last week, Erdogan charged that Assad's government had used chemical weapons against its people, indicating that he believes President Obama's "red line" for the U.S. in deciding whether to take action has been crossed.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said last week that tests that were conducted on wounded Syrians who arrived in Turkey suggested that chemical weapons may have been used by Syrian security forces.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of the Shavuot holiday in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)