“There is one way out for Bashar, and that is to respect the will of the people and do whatever is necessary,” Mr. Erdogan said at a media conference while visiting Gabon. His remarks were broadcast by Turkish state TV Monday.
Violence has flared along the border in recent months, with Turkey firing artillery across the frontier to retaliate for Syrian shells hitting Turkish soil. In the deadliest cross-border incident, a Syrian shell killed five civilians in a Turkish border town in October.
The two Dutch batteries are scheduled to be operational by the end of the month and will remain in Turkey for a year. They are part of a NATO contingent of Patriot missiles that intercept incoming ballistic missiles. Two U.S. and two German batteries also are being deployed to other parts of southern Turkey.
The Syrian conflict began with peaceful protests in March 2011 but since has shifted into a civil war. The conflict increasingly has taken sectarian overtones in the past year, with predominantly Sunni Muslim rebels fighting the ruling regime that is dominated by Alawites, an offshoot group of Shiite Islam.
Fighting continued unabated Monday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels clashed with troops in the suburbs of Damascus, including in Daraya, south of the capital. The Observatory said the army sent reinforcements there to join in an offensive aimed at dislodging rebels from the district, located just a few miles from a strategic military air base west of the capital.
The towns and cities around Damascus have seen relentless fighting in recent weeks as rebels try to push through the government’s heavy defenses in the capital. The regime has responded with withering counterattacks that include barrages by artillery and warplanes. The Observatory also reported clashes in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, in the central region of Homs and in the southern province of Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising in March 2011.
• Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey. contributed to this article.
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