Turkey has broken off talks with Syria in the most serious break between the two countries since the advent of the Arab Spring.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced to reporters Wednesday in New York that Ankara might impose sanctions on Damascus.

Erdogan made the statement following his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the second day of the first session of the United Nations General Assembly.

“I halted talks with the Syrian government,” he told Turkish journalists at an impromptu news conference. “I did not want it to come to this point. But the Syrian government forced us to make such a decision.”

Turkey has long maintained close ties with its southern neighbor. But since the increasingly brutal government crackdown on civilian protestors, Ankara has repeatedly tried to convince President Bashar al-Assad to find other ways to end the anti-government demonstrations sweeping across the country.

Erdogan has urged Assad to end the military crackdown, and implement democratic reforms. Having failed to persuade the Syrian president to change his ways, however, the Turkish prime minister is now considering the option of imposing sanctions on Damascus instead.

Turkey has absorbed thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the violence, preferring to take their chances running the border than waiting for government troops to reach their towns.

The Arab Council for Protection of Journalists estimates that some 3,600 people have been killed since the uprising began 28 weeks ago.