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Syria Announces 'Defeat' Of Insurgency

Damaged buildings in the old city of Homs on March 30
Syria's Foreign Ministry has said that the government has defeated the antigovernment insurgency.

Spokesman Jihad Makdisi said government forces would be withdrawn from urban areas only after they are stable.

He said that already forces are "in a state of self-defense" and are "protecting civilians" in the flashpoint city of Homs.

Makdisi's comments came shortly after UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan called for an immediate cease-fire in the country, where 9,000 people have died in a yearlong insurgency, according to UN estimates.

Annan's office said the government, as "the stronger party," should implement the cease-fire unilaterally as "a gesture of good faith."

Also on March 31, the Turkish government reported that more than 17,000 Syrians have fled into Turkey since the insurgency began.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

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