Ankara: Turkey added its voice on Friday to warnings that civil war threatens Syria, while France's top diplomat called for stepped up sanctions against Damascus, which he said had left it too late to reform.
      
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu pointed to new attacks by army defectors, adding, "Therefore, I say there is a risk of transforming into civil war.
      
"It is now the right time to stop this massacre, and therefore the Arab initiative is important."
      
The Arab League has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a deadline to halt his bloody repression of anti-regime protests or risk sanctions.
      
"If it is not successful of course there is always a risk of civil war or high level tension in Syria," Davutoglu said. Up until now the Turkish diplomat said it had been "difficult to call it a civil war because in civil war there are two parties attacking each other.
      
"But in this case usually civilians are being attacked by the security forces."
      
The eight-month revolt in Syria has turned increasingly violent, with the Free Syrian Army, made up of army defectors, mounting a daring attack this week against a military intelligence base near the capital and the opposition becoming more militarised.
      
Visiting Ankara, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that "the time has come to increase sanctions," against the Syrian regime.
      
"The situation is no longer sustainable," and "the ongoing repression is unacceptable," Juppe told a joint news conference with Davutoglu.
      
"It is not normal that the (UN) Security Council has not made any decision so far," said Juppe. "I hope those blocking any resolution will be aware of the reality of the situation," he said, referring to China and Russia.
      
Juppe, whose country was a major player behind NATO's military intervention in Libya, was in Turkey for talks focused on Syria, ahead of a tour of Arab states.
      
On Wednesday, France announced it had recalled its ambassador to Syria after its diplomatic missions there were attacked by Assad loyalists.
      
"We believe that the (Syrian) regime was not willing to implement a reform programme and now it is too late," Juppe said early Friday after a meeting with the Turkish parliament's foreign relations committee head, Volkan Bozkir.       

He noted that Turkey and France had an overlapping approach to the crisis in Syria.

(Agencies)