Turkey closes Syria embassy

The significance of this move by Turkey is that they were considered - next to Iran - Syria's most faithful ally. The fact that they have no essentially broken relations with Damascus is a big victory for the opposition.


Turkey is not the first to shutter its embassy; the United States and several European and Arab nations have shut down operations as well. But the closure by Turkey - a key regional player and, until last year, a close ally of Syria - is likely to put increased pressure on the Syrian government. It could also boost opposition groups.

While the capital has remained relatively calm during much of Syria's uprising over the past year, in the last week it has seen several car bombings and major gun battles.

"Activities at the Turkish embassy have been suspended from this morning," said one Turkish official speaking anonymously to Al Jazeera.

Turkey remains closely involved with events in Syria, however. Aside from sharing a border, the nation is now home to at least 16,000 Syrian refugees who fled the fighting. Additionally, many of the Syrian opposition groups are based in Turkey. One major meeting of opposition groups will take place in Istanbul today, reports Al Jazeera.

The Turkish government has strongly condemned the Syrian regime's crackdown on protesters, which has left more then 8,500 people dead, according to United Nations estimates. Aside form hosting opposition groups, the Turkish government has also called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and targeted the regime with a number of sanctions, reports Al Arabiya.

Most nations are holding their support for the opposition until they can get their act together. So far, there appears to be no unifying theme that would bring the factions together and kick Assad out. Eventually, they will get around to creating some kind of alliance. But until they do, even interested parties like Turkey are likely to remain on the sidelines, giving humanitarian and non lethal aid to the rebels, but stopping short of giving them what they need to challenge the Syrian regime.