Clinton urges end to Syria crackdown

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Syria Friday to halt a deadly crackdown on anti-regime demonstrations and respond to the democratic hopes of its people.

"We call on the Syrian authorities once again to refrain from any further violence against their own people," she told reporters in Berlin after a NATO meeting in Berlin.

"The Syrian government has not addressed the legitimate demands of the Syrian people. It is time for the Syrian government to stop repressing their citizens and start responding to their aspirations."

Thousands of protesters massed across Syria after weekly Muslim prayers Friday, a day after embattled President Bashar al-Assad unveiled a new government and announced an amnesty for scores of prisoners detained since the protests erupted one month ago.

Assad's 11-year regime has been rocked by unprecedented unrest since March 15 demanding reform and an end to a draconian emergency law.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch accused Syrian security and intelligence services of torturing many of the hundreds of protesters detained since the demonstrations began.

At the same time, the United States accused Iran of aiding Syria in its crackdown on protesters and the European Union shelved plans for an economic association deal with Damascus.

Syria and Iran denied the American allegations.

© 2011 AFP

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