Saudi Arabia Recalls Ambassador to Syria, Condemns Bloodshed

Posted August 8th, 2011 at 5:35 am (UTC-5)
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Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador to Syria as the international community ramps up pressure on the Syrian government to end its crackdown on opposition protesters.

Saudi King Abdullah issued a statement Monday urging Syria to end the bloodshed. He said the situation is not in accord with religion, values or ethics.

The Saudi king's message follows similar statements by the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is made up of six Arab states, including Saudi Arabia. Up to this point, Arab leaders had been largely silent on the issue.

Meanwhile, Syrian activists and residents say artillery fire resumed Monday in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, where security forces backed by armored vehicles have been carrying out an assault since Sunday. Rights groups say at least 42 people were killed in the city on Sunday.

Activists say Syrian troops also stormed Maaret al-Numan in the northern province of Idlib Monday and are preventing residents from entering or leaving the city.

President Bashar al-Assad defended his violent crackdown Sunday, saying it is a “national duty” to deal with what he calls “outlaws” who cut off roads and “terrorize” people. Speaking during talks with Lebanon's visiting foreign minister, Mr. Assad also said Syria is on a path to reform.

The Syrian president is facing growing international pressure to end the crackdown.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday he has run out of patience with Syria's crackdown and will send Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Damascus on Tuesday to deliver that message in a “decisive” manner.

Mr. Assad's adviser, Buthaina Shaaban criticized Turkey Sunday, saying it failed to condemn armed groups who Damascus says have brutally murdered Syrian civilians and security forces. She said Syria will make that point to Davutoglu in an even stronger manner.

The United States estimates Mr. Assad's government is responsible for the deaths of more than 2,000 people since the uprising began in March.