Be careful with Assad, Ankara warns

May 19, 2011 at 11:13 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, May 19 (UPI) -- The United States should tread carefully in Damascus and recognize there aren't many other options there apart from the current Syrian president, Ankara warned.

U.S. President Obama imposed sanctions that went into effect Wednesday against Syrian President Bashar Assad and other officials in an effort to prod the regime to end its crackdown on protesters.

Observers blame Syrian forces for using live fire against demonstrators, putting the death toll at close to 1,000. Assad admitted Wednesday that his forces made some mistakes in dealing with the protests though the official Syrian Arab News Agency describes the unrest as an insurrection.

An official in Ankara told Turkish daily newspaper Today's Zaman that Washington should think twice before going after Assad as there aren't very many alternatives to replace him.

Assad last month enacted a series of reforms meant to allay protester concerns. Washington said the level of violence in Syria shows the regime isn't serious about reform, however.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this week blamed the violence on Assad. He assumed in power after his father Hafez Assad, who ruled Syria for 29 years, died in 2000.

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