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Riots are making Turkey too dangerous - says war-torn Syria

A fourth day of violence erupts in cities across Turkey where protesters claim Prime Minister Erdogan's government has become increasingly authoritarian. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

ISTANBUL - War-torn Syria has warned its citizens not to travel to neighbor Turkey, Reuters reported Monday as Istanbul prepared for a fourth day of violent public demonstrations in which more than 1,000 have been injured.

Syria's Foreign Ministry said it advised Syrians "against travel to Turkey for the time being for their own safety, because of the deteriorating security situation in several Turkish cities...and the violence of (Prime Minister Tayyip) Erdogan's government against peaceful protesters," according to Reuters.

Reuters

Anti-government protesters behind barricades clash with riot police on Istanbul, early Monday.

In Istanbul, hundreds of young men and women gathered on ─░stiklal Avenue, one of the city's main streets, early Monday. The crowds, which clapped and whistled as they headed toward the city's main Taksim Square, were smaller than those seen over the weekend.

The private Dogan news agency said police fired tear gas at the group in an area close to Erdogan's Istanbul offices. The protesters responded by hurling stones, it reported.

The government of Syria is fighting a two-year uprising in which an estimated 80,000 people have died. In Turkey, more than 1,000 people have been hurt in its largest city Istanbul, capital Ankara and other cities after protesters clashed with police over the last three days.  

Erdogan, a former close ally of Syria's Bashar Assad, turned against Damascus after the Syrian president cracked down on mainly peaceful protests which broke out in March 2011 and have since descended into a brutal civil war.

Turkey is hosting around 370,000 Syrian refugees. It has also been a base for Assad's military and political foes, as well as a transit point for weapon supplies flowing into northern Syria.

On Saturday Syria called on Erdogan to halt what it called his violent repression of protests or step aside -- an echo of the appeals to Assad in the early days of Syria's uprising.

Thanassis Stavrakis / AP

High school students chant slogans during a protest at Gezi park, Taksim square in Istanbul, Monday.

According to Reuters, Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi said:  "The demands of the Turkish people don't deserve all this violence ... If Erdogan is unable to pursue non-violent means, he should resign." 

The recent unrest in Turkey broke out when trees were torn down at a park in Taksim as part of government plans to develop the area.  The demonstrations have broadened into a show of defiance against the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Erdogan has so far stood firm on plans to remake the square, and maintained that the protests were not actually related to the redevelopment.

"It's entirely ideological," he said in an interview on Turkish television. "The main opposition party which is making resistance calls on every street is provoking these protests ... This is about my ruling party, myself and the looming municipality elections in Istanbul and efforts to make the AK Party lose votes here."

Reuters contributed to this report.