Syria breaking commitments to Arab peace plan: France

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France said Friday that Syria was breaking its commitments to an Arab League peace plan by continuing a deadly crackdown on protesters and cast doubt on President Bashar al-Assad's dedication to the deal.

"The continuing repression can only strengthen the international community's doubts about the Syrian regime's sincerity to implement the Arab League peace plan," the French foreign ministry's deputy spokesman, Romain Nadal, told journalists.

"We understand that at least 20 peaceful protesters were killed by security forces yesterday in Syria," he said.

"The continuing repression is completely contrary to the commitments given by the Syrian regime to the Arab League."

Syrian troops killed five civilians in protest centres on Friday as demonstrators took to the streets nationwide to test the regime's commitment to the Arab peace deal.

Twenty civilians had been killed on Thursday -- the first day the hard-won agreement aimed at ending nearly eight months of bloodshed came into effect.

The peace plan calls on Assad to withdraw security forces from protest hubs and engage in a national dialogue with his opponents.

But Assad's opponents are sceptical about his readiness to rein in a brutal crackdown that the United Nations says has cost more than 3,000 lives since mid-March.

© 2011 AFP

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