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Thursday, August 18, 2011
SYRIAN OPPRESSION: Bashar al-Assad says military operations ended!
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zeenews.india.com / Last Updated: Thursday, August 18, 2011, 15:22.
Amman: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that military and police operations against pro-democracy protesters have stopped, but activists reported more bloodshed overnight.
Local activists said two protesters were shot dead by pro-Assad militiamen on Wednesday after nightly Ramadan prayers in the city of Homs, and security forces carried out raids on districts of Hama and the capital Damascus.
The United States was expected to call on Assad to step down, sources in Washington said. That call could come as soon as Thursday, with the European Union expected to follow suit, the sources said.
As well as the growing Western pressure, Assad also faces criticism from regional Arab states and neighbouring Turkey over his escalated military campaign against the uprising since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on August 01.
"Assad is trying to convince Turkey that the attacks have stopped, which could also help appease the United States, thinking he could once again stop Washington from calling on him to step down," a Western diplomat in Damascus said.
"But the operations have not even stopped."
Although Syrian authorities have announced the Army's withdrawal from Hama and Deir al-Zor, residents say military units are still present in those cities. The Army is also still deployed in Homs and the coastal city of Latakia.