Turkey demands dismissal of Syria's 'thug-in-chief'
Turkey has demanded the dismissal of President Bashar al-Assad's widely reviled brother in a significant escalation of pressure on the Syrian regime.
Signalling a further loss of patience with its former ally, the Turkish government sent an envoy to Damascus with a letter calling for the immediate removal of Maher al-Assad, dubbed Syria's "thug-in-chief", from his post as commander of the army's elite Fourth Division and Presidential Guards.
Maher al-Assad, regarded as perhaps the most feared man in Syria, has taken charge of a number of violent operations to quell the three-month uprising against his older brother, most recently in towns close to the Turkish border.
Syrian troops tightened their grip on the border zone yesterday, burning down bakeries and shops that have provided a lifeline to thousands of refugees trapped on the Syrian side of the frontier.
Thousands more have fled into Turkey, escaping a scorched earth policy by Syrian forces.
Amid growing frustration that the uprising has made little headway, opposition activists have announced the creation of a "national council" in an attempt to unify the largely leaderless campaign. (© Daily Telegraph, London)