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Turkey PM says Israeli air strikes on Syria 'unacceptable'

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Israel's air raids on military sites in Syria were "unacceptable."

"No excuse can justify this operation," Erdogan told ruling party lawmakers in parliament after Israel's weekend strikes on the war-torn country sent regional tensions soaring.

Israeli air raids killed at least 42 soldiers, according to monitoring groups, fuelling international concern over a spillover of the conflict, as Damascus warned it would strike back.

Erdogan said the Israeli attacks were a "golden opportunity" for his one-time ally President Bashar al-Assad to cover up massacres of opponents.

"Assad is trying to cover up what happened at Banias by using the Israeli raids as a pretext," said the Turkish premier, referring to a crackdown by Assad's troops and militiamen in the Mediterranean city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at the weekend that the bodies of at least 62 murdered residents had been found in a Sunni neighbourhood of the city.

On Sunday, Erdogan called the Syrian president a "butcher," in his harshest attack in recent months.

Ankara cut contact with Damascus after its calls for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, which is now in its third year and has killed more than 70,000 people, went unheeded.

Turkey has sided with the 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 crisis.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130507/turkey-pm-says-israeli-air-strikes-syria-unacceptable-0