Syria clampdown undermines Assad legitimacy: Britain

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Britain said Tuesday's deadly crackdown in the Syrian city of Hama would undermine the Damascus regime's legitimacy and ramp up international pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.

Security forces killed at least 11 people in Hama while residents mobilised to keep Syria's army out, activists said as the United States urged the regime to withdraw from the flashpoint city.

"Violent repression in Hama will only further undermine the regime's legitimacy and raise serious questions about whether it is committed to the reforms it has recently announced," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement issued through the Foreign Office in London.

"No meaningful political dialogue can take place while there is a brutal military crackdown.

"The UK has made clear that President Assad must reform or step aside. If the regime continues to choose the path of brutal repression, pressure from the international community will only increase."

Hague was in Jeddah on Tuesday for talks with Saudi officials on the Arab Spring uprising.

Assad has been faced with a revolt since mid-March. Rights groups say that more than 1,300 civilians have been killed and 10,000 people arrested by security forces since then.

© 2011 AFP

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