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Syria Under Growing International Pressure To Stop Violence

Jordan's King Abdullah II
Syria has come under renewed international pressure to halt a bloody crackdown against antigovernment protesters just days after being suspended from the Arab League.

Jordan's King Abdullah became the first Arab ruler to urge President Bashar al-Assad to step down amid a wave of government repression which has reportedly caused at least 3,500 deaths since March.

In a BBC interview, Abdullah said, "I believe, if I were in his (Assad's) shoes, I would step down."

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on November 14 agreed to impose sanctions on a further 18 Syrian individuals over the crackdown.

The EU has already imposed an assets freeze and travel bans on 56 Syrian individuals and has also frozen the funds of 18 companies and institutions.

EU foreign policy and security chief Catherine Ashton said the 27-nation bloc would seek to work with the Arab League to find ways to protect civilians.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said that the opinion of the international community was starting to coalesce over Syria

"I think what we're seeing is definitely a strengthening of the consensus against [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad [and] against what his regime is doing [and] I don't want to in any way downplay the significance of what we saw on Saturday [November 12]," he said. "It was, indeed, a very significant step forward. This is a sign that Assad's neighbors are disgusted with his actions and with his regime's actions."

The Arab League on November 12 said it was suspending Syria until it implements an agreement to halt a bloody crackdown on antigovernment protests.

On November 14, Syria said the Arab League decision to suspend it was "an extremely dangerous step."

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, speaking at a televised press conference in Damascus claimed the decision was prompted by American "incitement."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Arab League decision to suspend Syria was "incorrect."

compiled from agency reports

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