The foreign minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, has called on the U.S., the UK and other major world powers to intervene in the crisis in Syria, which has already lasted more than 20 months and cost at least 30,000 lives.
Davutoglu characterized Syria as standing on the brink of a humanitarian "disaster" and warned the violence there could spill across the region.
"How long can this situation continue?” he told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
“How can [the world] stay idle? We [Turkey] are doing all we can to help these people, using all diplomatic capacity to stop this bloodshed. But there should be a much more concerted effort by the international community. The best way we can see now is direct humanitarian intervention."
An estimated 145,000 Syrian refugees are now living in camps on the Turkish side of the border, but such facilities are now at near capacity, with many more Syrians expected to pour in.
Several hundred thousand more Syrians are displaced within their own country, while others have fled to Lebanon and Jordan.
"If nothing is done, maybe in the next two months, [the number of refugees will reach] 200,000, even 400,000,” the foreign minister stated.
“When the technology the [Syrian] regime was using was snipers, the refugees were coming in a few thousands. Now, they are using artillery shells and tanks -- the number increased rapidly.”
Davutoglu said he did not want a military engagement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but rather a concerted global humanitarian effort to help Syria’s battered population.
"There are millions of people, 2 million people inside Syria, who are IDPs [internally displaced people],” he noted.
“Those that are lucky can come to Turkey. They are the lucky ones. So there has to be humanitarian access, a humanitarian mission inside Syria, and the international community must be ready to protect it. This is the question, whether it is a buffer zone or humanitarian access: how these people are to be protected inside Syria. We are calling for an international humanitarian mission to go into Syria and be protected to stop the refugee flow. The international community must make a decision. Humanitarian access must be guaranteed by any means that is acceptable.”
While he said Turkey supports a dialogue process to establish peace in Syria, he warned that Assad cannot be trusted, rendering any talks with the current Damascus regime pointless.
"What is the purpose of any dialogue if it legitimizes the Syrian regime?” he rhetorically asked.
“If they are sincere, there are channels to have a dialogue -- U.N. special envoy [Lakhdar] Brahimi and many other channels. If they come to us with a proposal to end the bloodshed and allow the people to decide their own future, then there will always be a channel."
With respect to Russia, Syria’s staunch ally who has repeatedly warned the West against any Libya-style campaign in Syria, Davutoglu said he was hopeful Moscow would change its stance.
"I have contact with [Russia's foreign minister Sergei] Lavrov," he added. “They have their own approach, especially after the Libyan experience, but even if there was a mistake or something wrong in Libya, and I don't think that there was, why should Syrian people pay the price?"