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Syria’s Assad orders new amnesty as four dead

Posted by on June 22, 2011 0 Comment

Damascus: President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday ordered a new general amnesty, a day after an offer of “national dialogue” to end Syria’s unrest, even as activists said four people were killed in anti-government protests.

Two people were killed in the central city of Homs and another two in the northeastern province of Deir Ezzor, the activists said, citing residents, as both the pro- and anti-Assad camps took to the streets.

On the humanitarian front, International Committee of the Red Cross president Jakob Kellenberger said after talks with Syrian authorities that the ICRC has been granted access to areas and people affected by the unrest.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which took part in a mission organised by the government to Jisr al-Shughur near the border with Turkey, said that villages in the flashpoint area were mostly deserted.

“A UNHCR staff member reported that villages were increasingly empty from around 40 kilometres from Jisr al-Shughur,” said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards. “There was no evidence of people working in the fields.”

At the forefront of criticism of the Syrian authorities, France called for UN Security Council intervention.

“The UN Security Council cannot remain silent for much longer,” French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said at a joint press conference in Paris with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

But Putin said: “We believe that interference in the sovereign matters of independent states shows little promise.” Western governments have been circulating a draft Security Council resolution that would condemn Assad’s crackdown but Russia has warned it would veto any such move.

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