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Turkey Urges Its Citizens To Leave Syria

March 16, 2012

Turkey is urging its citizens in Syria to return home as quickly as possible due to the violence convulsing the neighboring country.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the unrest in Syria poses "serious security risks" and that it has decided to close the consular section of its Damascus embassy next week.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government was also considering withdrawing the Turkish ambassador from Syria.

Turkish officials earlier announced that about 1,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey since March 14 -- bringing the total number of registered Syrian refugees in Turkey to some 14,000.

According to United Nations estimates, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on antiregime opponents has claimed more than 8,000 lives since the uprising erupted one year ago.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) says all six of its member states have decided to close their embassies in Damascus.

GCC head Abdullatif al-Zayani said the closure of the embassies is meant to condemn the Syrian regime's "continued killing of its people" and its rejection of "all initiatives aimed at finding a solution to the crisis."

The Gulf Cooperation Council brings together Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait.

The special envoy to Syria for the United Nations and Arab League, Kofi Annan, is due to brief the Security Council on his recent talks in Damascus and his proposals to end the bloodshed.

Damascus has said it has given a "positive" response to Annan's approach. An Annan spokesman said the door of dialogue is "still open."

On the first anniversary of the Syrian uprising, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the government and opposition to work with Annan.

The United Nations' aid chief, Valerie Amos, said Syria had agreed to a joint mission to assess the humanitarian needs in Syrian cities and towns this weekend.

With Reuters, AFP, and AP reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/syria_annan_assad_violence/24517381.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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