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Syrians rally in solidarity with embattled president

(Xinhua)

09:21, November 17, 2011

DAMASCUS, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Syrians thronged public squares in several Syrian provinces on Wednesday to demonstrate solidarity with embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

The rallies were held to mark the 41st anniversary of the " correctionist movement" led by former President Hafez al-Assad, father of the current president.

They were also meant to denounce a decision by the Arab League (AL) to suspend Syria's membership in the organization ahead of a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in the Moroccan capital of Rabat that aims to discuss measures for the Syrian crisis.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem initially announced that Syria would take part in the ministerial meeting, but member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council warned that they would not attend the meeting if Syria did.

A source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday that Syria had decided to boycott the AL meeting in Morocco in protest of some statements by Moroccan officials.

The source, whose remarks were carried by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), said that "Syria's initial decision to participate in the Rabat meeting was taken in compliance with the desire of some sisterly countries, but in light of the statements, of which we have been informed from officials in Morocco, Syria has decided not to attend."

The source did not disclose the contents of these statements.

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