The leader of Syria’s exiled Muslim Brotherhood said Thursday that his compatriots would accept Turkish “intervention” in the country to resolve months of bloody unrest.
“The Syrian people would accept intervention coming from Turkey, rather than from the West, if its goal was to protect the people,” Mohammad Riad Shakfa told a press conference.
“We may ask more from Turkey as a neighbour,” he also said, without elaborating on the nature of the intervention which the Brotherhood might consider acceptable.
On Thursday, pro-government daily Sabah reported that the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), together with the Muslim Brotherhood, had asked Turkey to establish a no-fly zone on the Syrian side of the shared border to protect Syrian civilians.
Mohammed Faruk Tayfur, political leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the SNC, declined to comment on the allegations, saying only that discussions were held on “every possible means” with several governments in order to stop violence.
He added that the governments and the SNC discussed how to increase political pressure on Assad and the possibility of an economic embargo against Syria, in a way that would not affect the people.
“We discussed every possible means available by international law to stop the killing of civilians,” Tayfur said.
“We are trying to prevent the killings of civilians as we (try) to mobilise the international community,” he said, while rejecting foreign intervention in Syria.
“If there is foreign intervention, something which we would not want… the entire responsibility rests with the dictatorial regime in Syria,” he said.
Shakfa also said that the Syrian government can be isolated internationally if other countries withdrew their envoys from Damascus. “Syrian people will handle the rest on their own,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood does not want Islamic rule in Syria, Shakfa said, but a new regime would refer to Islam.
“Justice, freedom and equality are also among the values of the Islamic order… As Muslims we will take Islam as a reference,” he said.
Shakfa praised the rebel Free Syrian Army of defecting troops and its latest attack on government forces, while insisting the revolt in Syria was “peaceful.”
The army defectors are “honourable soldiers” as they deserted after attacks against civilians, he said.
“Self defence is appropriate when one is attacked,” Shakfa said.
The Free Syrian Army is led by a renegade colonel who took shelter in Turkey, Riyadh al-Asaad. The group intensified its operations against the regular army on Wednesday when it struck an intelligence base near Damascus.
The Syrian regime’s crackdown on anti-government protests since mid-March has cost more than 3,500 civilian lives, according to UN figures.