Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has rejected allegations that Turkey was shipping weapons to Syrian rebel forces to help them in their 17-month old fight to oust Bashar Assad's regime.
"These are the arguments which authoritarian regimes had always used to conceal their internal problems," Davutoglu told a televised interview on Friday night live on the private news channel NTV.
Davutoglu said Turkey had put continuous efforts for nine months to ward off Syrian army's involvement and further bloodshed, adding that he visited Damascus 62 times for talks with Assad.
"We didn't tell anyone to take up arms and revolt. But we cannot remain silent about the Syrian people who had stood up and fought in the name of values which Turkey also cherishes," Davutoglu said.
The Turkish foreign minister also rejected that Turkey, together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was in confrontation with Russia and Iran over the Syrian crisis, adding that Turkey had held consultations also with Russia and Iran to devise diplomatic ways to stop the bloodshed which he said the Syrian regime had refused to discuss.
Davutoglu said Iran was "making a mistake by relying on regimes instead of peoples and their popular will. What we call the axis of resistance is the will of the Syrian people."
"No regime fighting its own people can survive long, [and the Assad regime] has months, and may be even weeks, not years."