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We will not budge says Syrian FM Walid Muallem

UN says 3,500 anti-regime protestors have died in Syria since March 2011
UN says 3,500 anti-regime protestors have died in Syria since March 2011 Reuters/Omar Ibrahim

International pressure continues to mount on the Syrian regime over its crackdown on protests after the Arab League announced a new meeting days after voting to suspend Damascus and diplomats in Brussels say the European Union could introduce further sanctions. 

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But Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Monday that the government in Damascus would remain firm despite its suspension which he warned was a "dangerous step."

The fresh Arab League talks, due on Wednesday in Rabat, Morocco, come after the 22-member bloc's surprise weekend decision to suspend Syria.

The move drew international praise but sparked angry mob attacks on foreign embassies in Damascus.

Arab foreign ministers had met in Cairo on 2 November, and drew up a plan to end the violence in Syria which has left 3,500 dead since mid-March according to the United Nations.

Under the deal, Syria would pull back its troops from the cities that were the focus of the anti-government protests and free demonstrators arrested since the start of the uprising.

The meeting gave Syria 15 days to comply with the peace plan.

At a meeting of the League in Cairo on Saturday, 18 of the 22 members voted to suspend Syria from 16 November over its failure to comply with the agreement

Syria, Yemen and Lebanon voted against the measure, and Iraq abstained.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to introduce further sanctions on Syria, targeting 18 people and freezing credits at talks between foreign ministers on Monday.

Ahead of the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that he backed the Arab League suspension, but his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov condemned it, saying the move was "incorrect."

Activists accused Assad's security forces of killing at least nine people on Sunday in the restive central cities of Homs and Hama, while also reporting that two members of the security forces were killed in an ambush.

 

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