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Turkey frustrated with Syrian opposition

April 17, 2013 at 12:54 PM   |   Comments

PARIS, April 17 (UPI) -- A lack of Western support for formal opposition to the Syrian government has led to radicalization of the rebel groups, Turkey's deputy prime minister said.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told French daily Le Monde that radical groups were gaining a foothold in Syria because of the lack of formal support for the opposition Syrian National Council.

"(Western powers) give neither military nor political support," his comments were translated by Today's Zaman as saying. "Regarding Syria, you did not show one-thousandth of the sensitivity you paid to Libya."

NATO enforced a no-fly zone over Libya during the early stages of civil war in 2011. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi died in October 2011 after falling into rebel hands. Libyans have since backed a new government, though security challenges remain more than two years after conflict began.

Syrian leaders visiting Moscow this week said they were considering formal talks with their opponents at some point this year. Russia has objected to U.N. Security Council draft resolutions against Syria, saying they lack balance. Russia is a top military supplier to Syria.

The United Nations estimates at least 70,000 people have died as a result of Syrian civil war, now in its third year. More than 1 million Syrians have been displaced by conflict.

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in an audio message that surfaced April 7, called on rebels in Syria to set up an Islamic state. Rebel group al-Nusra Front has ties to al-Qaida and has shunned the opposition coalition.

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