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Tánaiste calls for Syrian president to step down

Eamon Gilmore has spoken out in support of opposition groups amid a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests.

Pro-regime protesters gathered in the center of Damascus yesterday in support of Bashar al-Assad
Pro-regime protesters gathered in the center of Damascus yesterday in support of Bashar al-Assad
Image: Muzaffar Salman/AP/Press Association Images

EAMON GILMORE HAS called for an end to the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad amid a further brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in the country.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs condemned the violence and said: “The Assad regime must make way for a genuine political transition.”

He said protesters were merely trying “to uphold basic human rights and freedoms”. The UN estimates that 5,000 people have been killed in the country since protests broke out as part of the Arab Spring earlier this year.

His words came as observers said Syrian security forces had attacked a town in the north of the country, killing 23 civilians. It was reported earlier today that dozens of soldiers attempting to desert the army were shot dead as they tried to escape.

Gilmore welcomed a plan by the Arab League group of countries, which would see army troops withdrawn from besieged towns and cities, and the beginning of a process of political dialogue.

After stalling for weeks, Syria yesterday signed the deal to allow Arab League monitors into the country. However, the opposition has dismissed the deal as a stalling tactic, and the violence continued unabated, with reports by activists that more than 100 people were killed on the same day the pact was signed.

“This is the only way forward,” Gilmore said. “If the Assad regime does not take this route, it will find itself exposed to a steady escalation of international pressure, sanctions and isolation.”

- Additional reporting from AP

Read more: Full coverage of the Syrian conflict on TheJournal.ie>

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