Turkey would join coalition against Syria, says foreign minister

ISTANBUL Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:11am EDT

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addresses the media in Ankara June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addresses the media in Ankara June 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey would join any international coalition against Syria even if a wider consensus on action cannot be reached at the U.N. Security Council, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying on Monday.

"We always prioritize acting together with the international community, with United Nations decisions. If such a decision doesn't emerge from the U.N. Security Council, other alternatives ... would come onto the agenda," Davutoglu told the Milliyet daily.

"Currently 36-37 countries are discussing these alternatives. If a coalition is formed against Syria in this process, Turkey would take its place in this coalition."

Turkey has emerged as one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's most vocal critics during the two-and-a-half year conflict, sheltering half a million refugees and allowing the opposition to organize on its soil.

The NATO member has criticized world powers for failing to take a decisive stance. The U.N. Security Council has been hamstrung by the opposition of veto-wielding members, Russia and China, to any firm action.

"From the outset, Turkey has argued that the international community must not stand by in the face of the Assad regime's massacres," Davutoglu said.

"Leaving unpunished leaders and regimes which resort to such practices undermines the deterrence of the international community. Those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity must definitely be punished."

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall, Elizabeth Piper)