ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Turkey's prime minister has dismissed concerns that removing Syrian President Bashar Assad would open the way for extremists to take over the country.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters at the Group of 20 leading world economies in Russia on Friday that any new Syrian government would be better than the present one.

He said: "It could not be worse than when the people are bombed and oppressed."

Erdogan also rebutted suggestions by Russia that recent chemical attacks in Syria might have been carried out by rebels, arguing that only the Syrian government had the means to carry out such attacks.

The U.S. and France are preparing possible military action against Syria, and are trying to build support at the summit.