Turkish PM to Protesters: 24 Hours to Disperse

Effects of Turkish violence may influence Syrian conflict.

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the protesters "vandals" and "terrorists."

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Compromise does not appear to be on the horizon in Turkey as at least five people have been killed after almost two weeks of protests.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a final warning to those he called "troublemakers" protesting in Istanbul's central Taksim Square, reports the Independent. Police began another wave of violent response to the protests in the square Thursday, firing massive amounts of tear gas and using water cannons against the assembled crowd. In response, protesters have thrown Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at police.

Protests in Turkey began on May 31 when environmentalists staged a sit-in at Istanbul's Gezi Park, one of the few grassy spaces left in the iconic city, which the government plans to commercially develop. Experts say extremists have taken advantage of these protests for their own forceful agenda.

[READ: Death Toll Rises to 5 in Turkey Protests]

Erdogan said his "patience is at an end. I am making my warning for the last time," the Independent reports. "I say to the mothers and fathers, please take your children in hand and bring them out ... We cannot wait any more because Gezi Park does not belong to occupying forces, but to the people."

Erdogan gave protesters 24 hours from Thursday morning to clear out.

Police took over the square on Tuesday after clashing with protesters, who hid in nearby Gezi Park, the BBC reports. They returned from what has become "a game of cat and mouse," culminating in thousands injured according to reporter Mark Lowen in Istanbul.


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Protesters throughout Turkey say they seek greater rights over what they call an authoritarian regime. Erdogan remains relatively popular leader, but is known for his harsh crackdowns on civil protests.

He has called the protesters "vandals" and "terrorists," says the BBC, and claims that they are part of an international conspiracy to destabilize Turkey's economy. One expert believes this violence is going to affect Turkish foreign policy, particularly toward neighboring Syria.

Erdogan and the Turkish government have allowed "unfettered access across the border," says Elizabeth O'Bagy, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War. This allows Istanbul to be used as a base for the Syrian opposition movement within Turkey.

[OPINION: What Will Erdogan Do After Turkey’s Taksim Square Protests?]

"That's likely to change," she tells U.S. News. "There will be greater control of movement along its border."

"Most Turkish citizens are against greater involvement in Syria. They're angry at the Turkish government's relations with the [Syrian] opposition, and they really feel like the Syrians are using their country as a base to create instability, to the detriment of Turkey."

O'Bagy says she witnessed very little support for the Syrian opposition during a trip to Turkey last week.

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