October 4, 2013 - 19:55 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told Turkey it will pay a heavy price for backing rebels fighting to oust him, accusing it of harboring "terrorists" along its border who would soon turn against their hosts, Reuters reported.
In an interview with Turkey's Halk TV due to be broadcast later on Friday, October 4 Assad called Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan "bigoted" and said Ankara was allowing terrorists to cross into Syria to attack the army and Syrian civilians.
"It is not possible to put terrorism in your pocket and use it as a card because it is like a scorpion which won't hesitate to sting you at the first opportunity," Assad said, according to a transcript from Halk TV, which is close to Turkey's opposition.
"In the near future, these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey and Turkey will pay a heavy price for it."
Turkey, which shares a 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria and has NATO's second largest deployable armed forces, is one of Assad's fiercest critics and a staunch supporter of the opposition, although it denies arming the rebels.
It shelters about a quarter of the 2 million people who have fled Syria and has often seen the conflict spill across its frontier, responding in kind when mortars and shells fired from Syria have hit its soil.
It has also allowed rebel fighters to cross in and out of Syria but has grown alarmed, along with Western allies opposed to Assad, by divisions among their ranks and the deepening influence of radical Islamists in Syria.
Last month, the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized Azaz, about 5 km (3 miles) from the border with Turkey, and has repeatedly clashed with the local Northern Storm brigade since then.
"Right now, Syria is headed for a sectarian war," Erdogan said in an interview on Turkish television late on Thursday.
"This is the danger we are facing."
Turkey has bolstered its defenses and sent additional troops to the border with Syria in recent weeks and its parliament voted on Thursday to extend by a year a mandate authorizing a military deployment to Syria if needed.