ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's prime minister increased pressure on Syria to halt its military crackdown on protesters Wednesday, saying his country and other would press ahead with plans to sanction Damascus.
Turkey's military meanwhile, was scheduled to carry out exercises close to the 850-kilometer (520-mile) long border with Syria.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech delivered during a visit to South Africa that Turkey and other nations, including unidentified countries in the European Union, would not be deterred by Monday's veto of a European-backed resolution that threatened sanctions against Syria if it didn't immediately stop its violence against civilians. The U.N. estimates the crackdown has led to more than 2,700 deaths since mid-March.
"Turkey and either some or all of the European Union nations, and who knows which others, will take steps," the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as saying. "It won't stop our sanctions."
Turkey has already imposed an arms embargo on Syria and Erdogan is expected to announce new sanctions on its neighbor later this week when he visits camps near the border where some 7,500 Syrians have sought refuge from President Bashar Assad's brutal crackdown.
"Out of necessity, our package of sanctions will come into effect," Erdogan said. He did not provide details but Turkish leaders have said that the measures would punish Syria's leadership, not its people.
Turkey is an important trade partner for Syria and Erdogan had cultivated a close friendship with Assad. But Turkish leaders have grown increasingly frustrated with Damascus over its refusal to halt the crackdown on the opposition protests.
The military has announced eight days of exercises in Hatay province, which borders Syria, starting on Wednesday, to test the armed forces' mobilization capability and communication among various state organizations.
The military has described the drills as routine but analysts said they were intended to increase pressure on Syria.