Turkey's prime minister said Friday that his once-close allies in Syria's authoritarian regime will fall in a reckoning for the bloody crackdown on their own people, as activists there reported at least 17 more dead in new raids on antigovernment protesters. One protest group put the death toll as high as 32.
The prediction from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan deepens Syria's isolation and is very potent because it comes from a former ally and a rapidly emerging power in the Middle East. Adding to the gravity of his remarks, he made them in Tripoli, Libya's capital, where Erdogan celebrated the fall of strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
Syrian President Bashar Assad "will eventually have to pay the price for this," Erdogan said at a news conference, just like the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and — most recently — Libya.
Earlier, he told a crowd of thousands of cheering Libyans that leaders cannot prosper through oppression. "Totalitarian regimes are disappearing," Erdogan said. "The people's rule is coming."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague echoed those sentiments.
"The Arab Spring demonstrates that the universal aspiration for open societies, political freedoms and transparent and accountable government cannot be suppressed," he said. "President Assad and his regime are deluding themselves if they believe they can halt this tide."
The United Nations says Syria's bloody crackdown on dissent has killed 2,600 people.
Despite Friday's deaths, Syrian troops failed to stop thousands from pouring into streets nationwide.
The activists reported new demonstrations from the capital, Damascus, and its suburbs to the southern province of Dara, where the protest movement was born in mid March. Crowds also gathered in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour as well as the province of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast and central regions.