Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has tried to rally international support against the government in neighbouring Syria over its 14-month crackdown against opponents, was met with enthusiastic applause and shouts of "Long live Erdogan" at the Kilis refugee camp.
"Bashar is losing blood every day," Erdogan told the crowd of about 1,500 people less than a kilometre from the border. "Your victory is not far off. We have just one issue: to stop the bloodshed and tears and for the Syrian people's demands to be met."
Erdogan addressed the crowd from the top of a bus while military snipers watched from rooftops. Hundreds of police and soldiers guarded the road from the airport to the camp. His remarks came on the eve of a parliamentary election in Syria that Damascus has said shows reforms are under way.
But fighting in Syria continues despite a U.N.-monitored ceasefire, brokered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in place since last month. Fresh clashes erupted on Sunday between rebels and Assad's forces in eastern Syria.
"We maintain our hopes for the implementation of the Annan plan, but the bad news out of Syria is progressively undermining those hopes," Erdogan later told a news conference. "Simply following the Annan plan will not bring about a resolution ... A reform process that expands freedom within a parliamentary, constitutional system should start immediately."
Erdogan added that the number of refugees arriving in Turkey had declined since the ceasefire took effect.