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Saudi Arabia pulls Syrian ambassador as Anonymous hacks government site

King Abdullah condemns Syria’s crackdown on protesters, as the website of the Ministry of Defence is taken down.

The homepage of the Syrian ministry of defence, pictured after being accessed by the hacktivist collective Anonymous.
The homepage of the Syrian ministry of defence, pictured after being accessed by the hacktivist collective Anonymous.

SAUDI ARABIA’S KING ABDULLAH has condemned the Syrian government for its brutal crackdown on opposition protests, insisting there was “no justification” for Syria’s actions.

In a written statement published last night, the King said he was recalling his ambassador from Damascus for consultations – a relatively minor move that could have larger repercussions given Saudi Arabia’s influence in the region.

“What is happening there is not accepted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” CNN quotes the statement as reading. “There is no justification for the bloodshed in Syria, and what is happening has nothing to do with religion or ethics.”

The statement also said the Syrian government could “activate comprehensive reforms” very quickly, and urged it to do so.

Reuters described the criticism as “the sharpest [Saudi Arabia] has directed against any Arab state” since the onset of the Arab Spring in January.

CNN added that relationships between the two governments had already been under strain following January’s political upheaval in Lebanon, an ally and former client state of Syria. Saudi Arabia had tried to mediate in that dispute but ultimately quit the talks.

The statement was issued after another heavy day of violence in Syria, where more than 80 people died in clashes with the army in the east and centre of the country.

Activists told the BBC that at least 50 people had been killed when soldiers, tanks and armoured vehicles stormed the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, with a population of around 500,000, during the call to morning prayer.

Last night the online hacktivist collective Anonymous managed to successfully deface the website of Syria’s ministry of defence, plastering its homepage with YouTube videos purporting to show military brutality in clamping down on the arrests.

“To the Syrian people: the world stands with you against the brutal regime of [Syrian president] Bashar Al-Assad,” the statement – posted in both English and Arabic – had read.

Know that time and history are on your side — tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become.
No outside enemy could do as much damage to Syria as Bashar Al-Assad has done. Defend your country — rise up against the regime!

The website had been taken offline at the time of publication.

More from Syria: Death toll rises to 52 in Deir el-Zour clashes >

Earlier: Hama streets fall quiet as Syrian government claims the city >

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Gavan Reilly

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