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Turkey's support of rebels criticized after blast

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By The Los Angeles Times
Monday, May 13, 2013, 10:03 p.m.

ISTANBUL — Deadly weekend car bombings in a southern Turkish city have galvanized domestic opposition to the government's steadfast support for Syrian rebels amid fears that Turkey is being dragged into the bloody conflict across its border.

“The chaos of Syria has been transported here,” said Faruk Logoglu, deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party, speaking Monday from Reyhanli, close to the Syrian border. “This is a direct result of the government's Syria policy.”

The attacks have been widely viewed as “blowback” from the Turkish government's support for the Syrian political and military opposition. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has allowed Turkish territory to be used as a logistics and organizing base for armed rebels and political factions seeking to oust the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet with President Obama at the White House this week in a visit that is expected to focus largely on Syria. The Turkish government has long sought a more forceful U.S. role in support of the Syrian opposition.

Less than 24 hours after Saturday's attacks, Turkish authorities pointed at the Syrian government and dismissed the idea that the bombings could have been carried out by Syrian rebels, who have a robust presence in Hatay province, where Reyhanli is located.

“The incident is certainly linked to the Syrian regime,” Erdogan said.

Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler called Syria's intelligence services the “usual suspects.”

Syria's information minister, Omran Zoubi, denied that Syria had any role in the bombings, and labeled the Turkish government “al-Qaida's political branch.”

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