BEIRUT

Middle East

Turkey suggests that Syria's vice president replace Assad

Turkish military station at the border with Syria, across from Syrian rebel-controlled Tel Abyad town, right, in Akcakale, Turkey, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo)

ANKARA: Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara "is a man of reason" who could replace President Bashar al-Assad as the head of a transition administration to stop Syria's civil war, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"Faruq al-Shara is a man of reason and conscience and he has not taken part in the massacres in Syria. Nobody knows the (Syrian) system better than he," Davutoglu said Saturday on the public television channel TRT.

The Turkish minister stressed that the Syrian opposition "is inclined to accept Shara" as the future leader of the Syrian administration.

Shara, the most visible Sunni Muslim figure in the minority Alawite-led government, is trusted by the regime and was foreign minister for 15 years before becoming vice president in 2006. Reports that he had defected in August were denied by Damascus, but some opposition leaders say he is apparently under house arrest.

Davutoglu said he was convinced that the Syrian vice president was still in Syria.

Ties between Ankara and Damascus, which have been tense since the start of the revolt in Syria in March 2011, worsened sharply after Syrian shells killed five Turkish villagers last week when they were fired across the border.

Turkey, which shares a border of 900 kilometres (450 miles) with Syria and hosts nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees on its territory, openly supports rebels from the Free Syrian Army and has called for Assad's ouster.

It has systematically retaliated for several days for Syrian shells that have landed on Turkish territory.

The United Nations has condemned the Syrian shelling and urged both sides to show restraint.

 

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