Turkey Closes Its Embassy in Syria

Posted March 26th, 2012 at 5:45 am (UTC-5)
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Turkey has closed its embassy in Syria because of what Turkish officials say is a worsening security situation.

Turkey warned its citizens in Syria last week that it planned to suspend services at the embassy in Damascus and urged them to return home.

Turkey has become increasingly vocal in urging an end to the bloodshed in neighboring Syria. About 17,000 Syrian refugees have poured across the border into Turkey to escape the fighting.

Turkey also hosts a Friends of Syria meeting next week, during which the United States plans to raise the issue of sending what it calls non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebels.

In Syria, pro-democracy activists say troops shelled the city of Homs Monday, setting a number of houses on fire. Homs is an opposition epicenter. One activist says the government is trying to destroy the city, Syria's third largest.

The United Nations says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's violent crackdown against the opposition has killed more than 8,000 people over the past year.

The government blames the violence on what it says are foreign-backed terrorists.