US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara on March 1, 2013.
An anti-US demonstration has been held outside the Turkish prime minister’s office in Ankara to protest against the official visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in the country to coordinate plans to support militants fighting the Syrian government.
On Friday, police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, who were trying to break through a security cordon around Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office in the capital, the Associated Press reported.
The demonstrators were holding banners reading “Kerry get out” and condemned the “imperialist powers” for waging wars against countries.
Kerry, who is making his first overseas trip as secretary of state, arrived in Ankara earlier in the day on the fifth leg of his tour of nine European and Middle Eastern countries to rally support for the militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday, the US secretary of state hailed Ankara’s leading role in backing the armed insurgency against the Syrian government, saying that Washington and Ankara will continue “to try to create a political transition” in Syria.
Before arriving in Turkey, Kerry visited Britain, Germany, France, and Italy.
In Rome on Thursday, he pledged an additional $60 million in assistance for the foreign-backed opposition in Syria — the so-called Syrian National Coalition.
Kerry is also scheduled to visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar before returning to the United States.
Meanwhile, female members of Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), held a conference in the southern city of Iskenderun to denounce the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air (SAM) missiles along the country’s border with Syria.
All of the Patriot systems, which are deployed by the US, Germany, and the Netherlands, became operational in the southern cities of Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, and Adana last month.
In November 2012, NATO announced a plan to deploy six batteries to “protect Turkey” from potential Syrian missile strikes.
Damascus has censured the deployment of the Patriot missiles along the Syrian border, calling it another act of provocation by the Turkish government.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed.
Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are supporting the armed groups.
In an interview recently broadcast on German television, the Syrian president said that the government did not start the conflict and the militant groups were the ones killing Syrian citizens and destroying the country’s infrastructure.