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Turkey to freeze assets of Syrian regime, impose other economic sanctions

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Turkey will suspend all financial dealings with Syria and freeze Syrian government assets as part of sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.

Davutoglu also told a news conference that Turkey, once a close friend of Damascus, would block the delivery of all weapons and military equipment to Damascus as part of measures aimed at persuading Assad to end a violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters, according to Reuters.

Turkey’s move follows in the wake of sanctions announced by the Arab league. Davutoglu also said a cooperation agreement with Syria was being suspended until there was a new government in place.

“Until a legitimate government which is at peace with its people is in charge in Syria, the mechanism of the High Level of Strategic Cooperation has been suspended,” Davutoglu said, adding Assad’s government had come “to the end of the road.”

A dozen ministers from both countries convene a few times a year to discuss joint projects under the high-level strategic council mechanism, according to AFP.

Davutoglu underlined that Turkey would not take any measures that would harm Syrian people and said the government would contemplate “additional measures” according to the steps to be taken by the Syrian administration.

Davutoglu on Tuesday said that Turkey did not want to consider a military option for intervention in Syria but that it was ready for any scenario.

In an interview with the television broadcaster Kanal 24, Davutoglu said on Syria that a regime which tortures its own people had no chance of survival.

Davutoglu said the international community may decide a buffer zone is needed in Syria if hundreds of thousands of people try to flee violence there, according to Reuters.

The Syrian government needs to find a way to make peace with its own people and Damascus still has a chance to accept international observers proposed by the Arab League, Davutoglu said.

“If the oppression continues, Turkey is ready for any scenario. We hope that a military intervention will never be necessary. The Syrian regime has to find a way of making peace with its own people,” he said.

The Arab League imposed the sanctions on Sunday and the European Union weighed in one day later.