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Assad 'not less dangerous' than IS: Turkish FM

Turkish Foreign Minister says Assad’s forces were responsible for the death of 200,000 people since outbreak of Syria's war three years ago
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in New York on 26 September, 2014 (AA)

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria are "not less dangerous" than the Islamic State militants, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Speaking in a televised interview Wednesday evening, Cavusoglu said Assad’s forces were responsible of 200,000 deaths since the outbreak of civil war three years ago.

He also criticized the UN for its "passivity" over Syria and said safe havens for refugees protected by a no-flight zone were "a must."

He called for support for the Free Syrian Army, adding: "The Free Syrian Army is not only fighting the (Assad) regime but also ISIL, Hezbollah and foreign fighters, and it needs support."

The Free Syrian Army is mostly comprised of soldiers who defected from the Syrian armed forces.

Syria's civil war began in March 2011 as a peaceful protest movement inspired by the Arab Spring and demanding Assad's ouster, but morphed into a brutal war after pro-Assad forces unleashed a massive crackdown against dissent.

The war has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 191,400 people, and displaced roughly half of the country's population, according to the UN. 

The majority of fatalities are reportedly of civilians, primarily killed by pro-Assad forces, although other groups are also implicated.