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Pro-Assad rallies sweep across Syria as international pressures build up


14:29, November 17, 2011

DAMASCUS, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- As Syrians were busy staging massive rallies in support of their embattled leader, the international community seemed to be determined to further isolate the regime by ramping up pressures against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Thousands of Syrians nationwide rallied Wednesday despite the cold rainy weather to show the world that Assad still enjoys unwavering support. However their efforts were met with further escalation in pressures against their leader.

France has called back its ambassador to Syria citing security reasons, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Wednesday.

Also Turkey geared up economic and political pressure on Damascus Wednesday, in the wake of attacks on Turkish diplomatic missions by pro-government protesters who were angry over Ankara's support for the Arab League (AL) suspension vote against Syria.

"The cost for the Syrian administration of not fulfilling the promises it made to the Arab League is its isolation in the Arab World," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday at a meeting of an Arab-Turkish cooperation forum on the sidelines of the AL ministerial meeting in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, where ministers were to discuss sanctions against Damascus.

Turkey's tough words came after it halted joint oil exploration with Syria and threatened to cut electricity exports to its neighbor, which has been struggling with electricity shortfalls.

Further, Jordan's Islamic Action Front (IAF) called on its government on Wednesday to recognize the opposition Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The IAF, the political wing of Muslim Brotherhood, urged the Jordanian government to withdraw its ambassador from Damascus.

Meanwhile, the Arab League decided to send observers to Syria if Damascus agrees to implement a peace plan to appease political unrest in the country, Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim al- Thani said in Rabat on Wednesday.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Monday that his country is still welcoming a previously-planned trip to Syria by an Arab committee to verify the situation in the country.

The Arab League on Saturday unanimously decided to suspend Syria's membership for failing to implement a peace plan inked by the Assad government and the pan-Arab body to end a deadly crackdown on protesters.

Under the peace plan, Syria would stop the deadly crackdown on civilian protesters and withdraw military vehicles from cities, release detainees and hold a dialogue with the opposition.

Al-Moallem said Syria has a strong resolve to implement the AL- sponsored plan. After the AL suspended Syria's membership, angry supporters of Assad carried out assaults on several foreign embassies over the past few days.

The attacks on diplomatic missions have angered the UN Security Council, which expressed its strong condemnation of the attacks and called on the Syrian authorities to protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel in the country.

The latest scene of assaults against diplomat missions was at the Moroccan embassy in Damascus Wednesday, during which the angry protesters pelted the embassy with eggs and stones.

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