UN envoy for Syria holds talks with Turkey's foreign minister
The UN-Arab League envoy for Syria began talks in Turkey on Saturday over the crisis in Syria, as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the United Nations efforts to end the conflict, DPA reported.
"If we wait for one or two of the permanent members ... then the future of Syria will be in danger," the Hurriyet newspaper quoted Erdogan as telling a forum in Istanbul.
Erdogan was referring to Russia and China, two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who have vetoed three resolutions on Syria.
"Nobody can claim that the UN Security Council is built upon a fair structure. We have left the world to the mercy of five permanent members - whatever they say happens," he said.
The comments came as Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy to Syria, arrived from Saudi Arabia to hold talks on the crisis with Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Lebanese television reported that Brahimi, who has yet to present a plan to end the 19-month-old conflict, could visit Tehran on Sunday.
Tensions between the Turkey and Syria escalated this week after Turkey said it had found Russian-made military equipment on a Syrian civilian plane that it forced to land in Ankara.
Syria denied the claim and called the forced landing "air piracy."
Russia, a key ally of Syria, said the cargo was mainly radar parts that complied with international civil aviation rules.
Syria's state-run news agency SANA reported Saturday that Damascus was in favour of a Russian foreign ministry proposal to establish a "Syrian-Turkish security committee to control the situation on both sides of the border."
Turkey last week hit targets inside Syria after Syrian artillery fire killed five Turkish civilians.
On the ground in Syria, government troops and rebels were engaged Saturday in clashes in the city of Aleppo, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Both sides have been fighting over control of Aleppo for months, with neither making long-lasting gains.
Gunmen meanwhile shot dead the pro-government chief of a state-run hospital in Aleppo, opposition activists reported.
Elsewhere, warplanes raided rebel-held posts in the northern province of Idlib, close to Turkey, wounding 22 rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Opposition fighters said they had captured 256 soldiers in northern Syria this week.
The observatory said Saturday that at least 33,082 people, including 23,630 civilians, have been killed in Syria's conflict since it started in March 2011.
The death toll could not be independently verified.