Washington - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
has told an American television channel he believes Syria has used chemical
weapons, crossing a "red line" set out by US President Barack Obama.
"It is clear the regime has used chemical weapons
and missiles," Erdogan told NBC News on Thursday, without providing details on
when or where they were used.
"It has been passed [a] long time ago," Erdogan
said of Obama's "red line”, calling for stronger US action against Syrian
President Bashar Assad.
"We want the United States to assume more
responsibilities and take further steps. And what sort of steps they will take,
we are going to talk about this," said Erdogan, who will meet Obama on 16
Erdogan said Syrian patients showing signs of chemical attacks
had been brought to hospitals across the border in Turkey, and that
"remainders of missiles" that he believes were used in such attacks
have been found.
Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, meanwhile,
told journalists that authorities were conducting blood tests on wounded Syrian
refugees to assess whether their injuries had been caused by chemical weapons.
He said more than a dozen test results "required
further study and should be taken seriously" but did not elaborate
"The studies continue. We will publish the results
once they are concluded," he added.
Western nations have raised concerns about the use of
chemical weapons in the escalating conflict, now more than two years old,
between Assad's regime and rebels fighting to oust him.
Top UN rights investigator Carla del Ponte said on Sunday
that according to testimony, rebels may have been using the deadly nerve agent
Both Erdogan and Davutoglu said there was no
evidence that Syrian rebels had used chemical weapons.
Ankara has sided with rebels fighting to topple Assad's
regime, taken in around 400 000 refugees as well as army defectors and
repeatedly called on the international community to act on the unfolding