Britain calls on Syria to withdraw forces from Homs

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Britain called on Syria on Friday to immediately withdraw its forces from the city of Homs, once again demanding the government in Damascus stop its "unacceptable" crackdown on dissent.

Activists said at least 10 people died in Homs during the day, among 24 killed nationwide. An opposition group warned of a bloody final assault on the city of 1.6 million residents in central Syria.

"The British government is deeply concerned by reports of a build-up of Syrian security forces and armoured vehicles in the besieged city of Homs," said Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt.

He added: "The Syrian government should immediately withdraw its forces from Homs and exercise restraint.

This is exactly what had said it would do when it agreed to the Arab League's November 2 plan, he added.

That plan had included a commitment to end all violence, "withdraw the military from cities and towns, release detainees and provide access for Arab League monitors and the international media," he added.

Burt said Homs had been the scene of "disturbing crackdowns" in recent months.

"We condemn the continuing violence against civilians and call on the Syrian government not to escalate the cycle of violence further," he added.

"We continue to work with our international partners to condemn the repression in Syria and call for the Syrian government to meet their people's legitimate demands.

"The violence is unacceptable and must stop."

© 2011 AFP

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