The Straits Times
Published on Dec 31, 2012

Turkish PM Erdogan tells Syrian refugees victory is near


ANKARA (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Syrian refugees on Sunday that victory over the "tyrant" President Bashar al-Assad was at hand.

"I can see it clearly that the help of God is near," Mr Erdogan said in televised remarks at Turkey's Akcakale refugee camp in the south-eastern city of Sanliurfa.

Mr Erdogan was welcomed to the 25,000-people settlement by thousands of cheering Syrians, who were waving Turkish flags and holding a giant portrait of him. "You have suffered so much but do not despair," Erdogan said.

The Turkish leader was accompanied by Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, who flanked the premier along with several of Erdogan's deputies. Mr Erdogan's visit was the first since Syrian mortars killed five Turks on Oct 3 in Akcakale, setting off weeks of artillery attacks from both sides of the border.