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Gulf Council Calls For End To Syria Violence


Antigovernment protesters gather in Homs on August 4.
The Gulf Cooperation Council today called for an "immediate end" to violence in Syria, a day after activists say government forces killed at least 22 people in mass rallies throughout the country.

Today's statement was the strongest yet to come from the bloc, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

It follows pledges on August 5 by U.S., French, and German leaders to help end the violence there.

Syrian activists have described government forces as opening fire on unarmed demonstrators and firing tear gas in an effort to disperse tens of thousands rallying against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Security forces have intensified in recent days the crackdown on the antigovernment protests, which began in mid-March.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on August 4 accused Assad's regime of killing more than 2,000 people.

Her comments came a day after the United Nations Security Council, in its first statement on Syria, slammed Assad for the brutal crackdown on dissent.

Meanwhile, Syria will hold free elections to a new parliament by year's end, according to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

"Syria will hold free and transparent elections that will give birth to a parliament representing the aspirations of the Syrian people," he said at a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Damascus.

compiled from agency reports