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Turkey risks Syria's friendship in last-ditch effort to end violence

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Hakan Goktepe/Turkish Foreign Ministry/Reuters

(Read caption) Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (l) meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Damascus August 9. Davutoğlu arrived in Syria on Tuesday to give Assad a robust message about the need to halt a military assault on protesters.

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Turkey is today sharply ratcheting up the pressure on Syria, warning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he could risk "Saddam-like" isolation if he does not halt his brutal crackdown on Syrian protesters.

As Syria's friend, neighbor, and largest trading partner, Turkey considers the issue to be primarily of domestic concern. But its outspoken demands for Syria could precipitate wider international action.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is personally conveying the message to President Assad in Damascus, where representatives of India, South Africa, and Brazil were also arriving today to push for an end to violence. Assad already faces condemnation from the UN Security Council, Saudi Arabia, the Arab League, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors to Damascus.

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