Deadly Unrest in Syria, Turkey Suspends Talks

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 2:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian security forces have killed four more people in a continuing crackdown on dissent, while Turkey announced it is suspending talks with its neighbor because of the Syrian government's violence against protesters.

Activists say security forces and snipers killed the four civilians Wednesday in the central Homs region. Homs has been a flashpoint city in the protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

On Tuesday, government forces searched houses in Homs and near the capital, Damascus. Rights groups say six people were killed in the raids.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has put a hold on talks with Syria and is considering imposing sanctions.

He told Turkish journalists in New York, late Tuesday, the Syrian government had “forced” Turkey to make the decision.

Mr. Erdogan spoke after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. The Turkish leader said his country's foreign ministry will work with the U.S. State Department to determine what sanctions Turkey might impose.

The White House said Mr. Obama and Mr. Erdogan agreed to consult on possible new steps that “could include sanctions, political pressure and other measures.”

Turkey shares a border with Syria and has shown reluctance toward sanctioning its southern neighbor, which is also an important trade partner.

But Turkish leaders have spoken out more and more in recent weeks against the Syrian government's crackdown.

The U.N. human rights office says at least 2,700 people have been killed during Syria's crackdown, including 100 children.

Syria has blamed much of the violence on armed groups and “terrorists.”

On Wednesday, state news reports said funerals were held for three security force members who were shot and killed by “armed terrorist groups.” The SANA news agency also said authorities had arrested an unspecified number of terrorists in the city of Dara'a.