Turkey on Sunday called on the international community for a united response to stop the bloodshed in Syria and summoned the Syrian envoy to condemn attacks on its diplomatic missions by pro-regime protesters.
“The attitude of the Syrian government … demonstrates the need for the international community to respond with a united voice to the serious developments in Syria,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
Turkey summoned the Syrian charge d’affaires, the country’s envoy to Ankara, and submitted a diplomatic note, as it condemned the attacks on its diplomatic mission.
“Turkey strongly condemns… the loathsome attacks on its embassy in Damascus, consulate in Aleppo and honorary consulate in Latakia,” the foreign ministry said.
On Saturday night, thousands of protesters carrying knives and batons attacked Turkey’s diplomatic missions, furious over Ankara’s support for an Arab League decision to suspend Syria, state-run news agency Anatolia reported.
In Aleppo, protesters managed to break into the consulate building, Anatolia said, while in Damascus they pelted the embassy building with stones, plastic bottles and tear gas shellings, which the police used to disperse the crowd.
No one was injured in the attacks, however Turkey decided to evacuate the families of diplomats and non-essential personnel from Syria.
A Turkish Airlines plane brought a group of 60 people to Ankara, Anatolia said. Ambassador Omer Onhon and diplomatic staff will stay on in Syria, the ministry said.
Arab League foreign ministers earlier Saturday voted to suspend Syria over its failure to comply with an agreement to end the crackdown on a nationwide protest movement calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation.
Turkey on Sunday hailed the decision saying it was “on time and of common sense”, highlighting the “seriousness” of the situation in Syria.
Syria’s failure to fulfil its commitments to the Arab League is a “disappointment” for Turkey, the statement said.
“The Syrian government should read the message of the Arab League right and stop the violence against its own people,” it added.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is to meet representatives of the Syrian opposition movement in Ankara at 1800 GMT Sunday, his ministry said.
“The Arab League took the right step … with this decision, we support it,” Davutoglu said Saturday during a visit to Serbia, media reports said.
Davutoglu said he would meet with the foreign ministers of Arab countries in Morocco on Wednesday during a Turkish-Arab Forum and would discuss Syria further, media reports added.
Ankara, once a close ally to Assad, has expressed frustration for his failure to listen to the people, whose almost daily pro-democracy rallies have been met with violent repression, at a cost of 3,500 lives, mostly civilians.
Turkey shares a long border with Syria of more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) in its south, and some 7,500 Syrians have fled to Turkey where they live in border camps in Hatay province.