Following visits to three European capitals, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu continued his diplomatic push for Syria in Istanbul, meeting successively the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) leader Ahmad Jarba and his Qatari counterpart Khaled al-Attiyah on Aug. 24.
Davutoğlu has urged Russia and Iran to review their stance if Damascus did not allow the U.N. probe into the reported chemical attack that killed over 1,300 on Aug. 21, qualifying their call for an investigation as a “positive step.”
Giving the example of Bosnia and Kosovo, Davutoğlu stressed the importance of a common initiative. “What we expect [in the case of a refusal from Damascus] is a Security Council decision with respect to the probe,” Davutoğlu said, during his press conference with al-Attiyah.
“A common initiative will then become inevitable,” he added.
Opponents of Bashar al-Assad said the president's forces killed 1,300 people when they unleashed chemical weapons east and southwest of Damascus in the attacks on Aug. 21. Early intelligence reports have showed that the regime had in fact resorted to chemical weapons. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also confirmed that the initial indications showed that the Syrian government was behind a “chemical massacre.”
'SNC ready for probe, unlike regime'
Earlier, Davutoğlu stressed that the Syrian rebels were showing readiness for a U.N. inspectors probe into the reported chemical attack, unlike the Syrian regime.
“There have been attempts to spread some news that the Syrian opposition has been trying to hinder the inspections. On the contrary, the Syrian National Coalition has stated […] that security will be provided in rebel-controlled areas. We support the coalition’s statements in this direction,” Davutoğlu said following his meeting with Jarba.
A U.N. team of chemical weapons inspectors has landed in Syria on Aug. 18, some three days before the reported attack. Following the reports, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon dispatched the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane who arrived in Damascus on Aug. 24 for talks aiming at establishing the terms of an inquiry into the reported chemical weapons attacks.
“Syria has carried out an attack with chemical weapons, committing the biggest of the crimes against humanity. There are claims from the Syrian regime that the attack was not carried out by their forces. So now, the Syria regime faces a test,” he added.
For his part, Jarba repeated the SNC’s call for a no-fly zone in Syria. “We ask for an urgent decision of the establishment of security zones for the civilians. The countries that claim to be the friends of the Syrian people should act with their conscience and respond to our demands,” Jarba said, in reference to the Friends of Syria group composed of Western and regional countries, including the United States.