France again slams Syrian crackdown

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French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe slammed Saturday Syria's "blind and brutal repression" of demonstrations against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Paris's second condemnation of Damascus in less than 24 hours.

"France condemns the extreme violence employed by Syrian security forces which caused the death of numerous demonstrators on April 22," Juppe said in a statement.

"The officials responsible for these crimes and those who carried them out must answer to their actions," he said.

"This blind and brutal repression goes against the lifting of the state of emergency" announced by Assad on Thursday, Juppe said.

"We urgently call on the Syrian authorities to renounce the use of violence and to respect the basic rights and liberties of their citizens in line with their international commitments, particularly the right to demonstrate peacefully and the freedom of the press."

"Only an inclusive political dialogue and reforms that meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people can ensure the preservation of national stability which is in the interests of all." he added.

Late Friday France said Syrian authorities should "renounce the use of violence against their citizens ... engage in an inclusive political dialogue without delay and put into place reforms that respond to the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people."

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages called for those responsible for the killings to be brought to justice, the release of people arrested and the respect of basic rights.

Syrian security forces on Friday reportedly killed more than 80 people in one of the bloodiest days of a month-long uprising.

They targeted thousands of protesters who demonstrated in cities across Syria on Friday, chanting "freedom, freedom," and calling for the fall of Assad's regime.

Assad issued decrees Thursday scrapping decades of emergency rule, abolishing the state security court and allowing citizens to hold peaceful demonstrations.

But witnesses said snipers and security forces killed at least five mourners at funerals of the victims on Saturday.

© 2011 AFP

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