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Syria races to restore security as int'l community ramps up pressure

(Xinhua)

14:06, February 23, 2012

DAMASCUS, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian government is racing against time to restore security and stability as the international community ramps up economic and diplomatic pressure on the country.

Over the past two weeks, Syria stepped up its crackdown on what it calls armed groups. The government accuses these groups of spreading anarchy, committing murders and intimidating civilians.

Meanwhile, countries in the Arab world as well as the West have threatened to tighten economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria and to render support to the oppositions.

Their recent measures include withdrawing their ambassadors to Syria and promoting the upcoming international meeting called " Friends of Syria".

The meeting, set to be held in Tunisia, reportedly aims to unify the opposition groups as a strong force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria, through its official media, slammed the proposed meeting as inciting internal rift and expanding the circle of violence.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports suggested that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had urged Jordan to set up camps for gunmen, most likely al- Qaida militants fleeing Iraq.

"Is it by arming the opposition groups that the Syrian crisis would be put to an end?" asked Muneir al-Hamwi, a university student. "We have had enough violence, tension and apprehension... we want to come out of this but of course not through sending more weapons into the country."

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