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Turkey Says ‘Time for Words Over’ Unless Syria Attacks End

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the “time for words will be over” unless Syria ends military operations against its people.

The Syrian government must cease the armed attacks on civilians immediately, Davutoglu told reporters in televised comments from Ankara today.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke yesterday with Davutoglu to discuss policy options on Syria, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing in Washington today.

“It’s not surprising to us that Turkish patience is wearing thin” with the Syrian government, Nuland said.

More than 2,400 people have been killed since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March, according to Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights. More than 30,000 people have been detained by the Assad regime, some in cages, Nuland said last week.

“We have the same goals,” Nuland said of U.S. and Turkish opposition to the crackdown. “We are working to consolidate our tactics, both political and military.”

The U.S. wants to make sure “the message from the international community has teeth,” Nuland said. Asked what further measures the U.S. might take against Syria, she said, “We are working on more sanction measures and we will continue to do so.”

Naval Blockade

Syria’s navy maintained a blockade of the port city of Latakia following an assault there during anti-government protests that left at least 42 civilians dead over the past day, according to activists such as Merhi.

“The people in Latakia got a real shock yesterday,” Merhi said in a telephone interview from Damascus. “Now the city is surrounded by the army and navy and most of the people have no electricity and the telephone network was blocked for a while so it was difficult to reach people.”

Nuland said she couldn’t confirm reports that Syrian naval warships began firing on civilians in Latakia.

“There is armor in the city and there is firing in the city again,” she said. “We have not been able to confirm this reported use of naval assets.”

The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, has been meeting with Syria’s opposition movement, Nuland said.

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