Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday said Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa could replace Bashar Assad as president and lead a transition government in the war-torn country.
Davutoglu described Sharaa as “a reasonable man” who “did not participate in the massacres in Syria,” according to the French news service AFP. Al-Sharaa is a member of Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, unlike Assad and other central figures in the regime who hail from the minority Alawite sect.
Despite being one of very few senior Syrian officials who are not Alawite, Sharaa, 74, has been a politician for some 40 years, serving as as vice president since 2006. He also served as Syria’s foreign minister and was closely involved in many of the unsuccessful efforts over the years to negotiate Israeli-Syrian diplomatic accords.
“No one knows the system better that he does,” said Davutoglu, adding that Sharaa’s candidacy is also acceptable to the Syrian opposition.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Sunday that Syrian rebels seized a government army outpost near the Turkish border province of Hatay and flew their flag over the building.
The border region has recently become a hot spot for artillery and mortar exchanges between the two countries.The crisis between them deepened last Wednesday, when a Syrian shell killed five civilians in a Turkish border town and triggered unprecedented artillery strikes by Turkey. Ankara has deployed more troops to its southern border and has responded to each shell that has struck Turkish soil with its own artillery barrage.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned Syria on Friday that his country would not shy away from war if provoked.