Assad unfazed by Turkish pressure as 50 killed in crackdown
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday the army would continue to pursue "terrorist groups," after Turkey pressed him to end a military crackdown aimed at crushing pro-democracy protests. Syria "will not relent in pursuing the terrorist groups in order to protect the stability of the country and the security of the citizens," state news agency SANA quoted Assad as telling Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
"But (Syria) is also determined to continue reforms ... and is open to any help offered by friendly and brotherly states." Davutoglu held six hours of meetings with Syrian officials, including a two-hour session alone with Assad.
As the two men held talks in Damascus, Syrian forces killed at least 50 people and moved into a town near the Turkish border, an activist group told Reuters. The National Organization for Human Rights said most of the fatalities occurred when soldiers stormed villages north of Hama, while four were killed in Binnish, 30 km from the border with Turkey.