JEDDAH, (Agencies) – The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz demanded an end to the bloodshed in Syria on Monday, and said that the kingdom was withdrawing its ambassador from Damascus.
King Abdullah issued a written statement condemning the situation in Syria, saying it was “not acceptable”.
“Syria should think wisely before it’s too late and issue and enact reforms that are not merely promises but actual reforms,” he said. “Either it chooses wisdom on its own or it will be pulled down into the depths of turmoil and loss.”
King Abdullah’s warning increases the international pressure on President Assad, whose family have ruled the country for four decades.
King Abdullah’s statement followed similar messages since Saturday from the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
In a statement issued yesterday, The Secretary General of the Arab League, Dr. Nabil Al-Arabi said that the opportunity is still available to accomplish the reforms announced by President Bashar al-Assad as a response to the Syrian people’s aspirations and their legitimate demands for freedom and change.
He also called the Syrian authorities to immediately cease all acts of violence and security crackdowns and expedite the necessary steps in this direction to preserve the national unity of the Syrian people.
Meanwhile, A besieged Syrian city came under fresh artillery fire early Monday .The renewed violence in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour comes a day after at least 42 people were killed there in an intensifying government crackdown on protesters.
“We heard very loud explosions, and now there’s intermittent gunfire,” an activist said in the city said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. He said people were too terrified to take the wounded to government hospitals, instead treating them at home or in makeshift hospitals.
The Local Coordinating Committees, which help organize the protests and track the uprising, said machine fire and artillery blasts resumed early Monday in Deir el-Zour. Syrian troops also stormed Maaret al-Numan in the northern province of Idlib at dawn, activists said.
“Forces entered the city from its eastern side and they are preventing the residents from entering or leaving the city,” the LCC said in a statement.
More than 300 people have died in the past week, the bloodiest in the five-month uprising against Assad’s authoritarian rule. Deir el-Zour, in particular, has come under withering attack. The city is in an oil-rich but largely impoverished region of Syria known for its well-armed clans and tribes whose ties extend across eastern Syrian and into Iraq.
“Humanitarian conditions in the city are very bad because it has been under siege for nine days,” an activist said in the city said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. “There is lack of medicine, baby formula, food and gasoline. The city is totally paralyzed.”
The government’s crackdown on mostly peaceful, unarmed protesters demanding political reforms and an end to the Assad family’s 40-year rule has left more than 1,700 dead since March, according to activists and human rights groups. Assad’s regime disputes the toll and blames a foreign conspiracy for the unrest, which at times has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets.