Saudi king says he will withdraw ambassador from Syria

"Syria should think wisely before it's too late and issue reforms," King Abdullah says; Syrian tank assaults kill more than 60.

Saudi King Abdullah 311 Reuters (photo credit: REUTERS)
Saudi King Abdullah 311 Reuters
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah demanded an end to the bloodshed in Syria on Monday, and said he was withdrawing his country's ambassador from Damascus.
"What is happening in Syria is not acceptable for Saudi Arabia," he said in a written statement read out on Al Arabiya satellite television. "Syria should think wisely before it's too late and issue and enact reforms that are not merely promises but actual reforms," he said. "Either it chooses wisdom on its own or it will be pulled down into the depths of turmoil and loss."
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On Sunday the violence in Syria showed no signs of letting up as Syrian troops killed at least 50 people in a tank assault on the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, activists said, despite a direct UN appeal to President Bashar Assad to stop using military force against civilians.
The assault on Deir al-Zor, capital of an oil-producing province, began one week after Assad sent the army to seize control of Hama, focal point of nearly five months of protest against his autocratic rule.
In a separate tank-led attack on villages in the Houla plain north of the central city of Homs, security forces killed at least 13 people, activists said.
"The numbers of casualties are escalating by the hour," activist Suhair al-Atassi, a member of the Syrian Revolution Coordinating Committee, said by telephone from Damascus.
The Arab League, in a rare response to the escalating bloodshed in Syria, joined the international wave of criticism on Sunday, calling on authorities to stop acts of violence against protesters, the Qatar News Agency reported.
Assad defended the army campaign against what Damascus says is an armed insurrection. "Dealing with outlaws and convicts who stage highway robbery and seal off cities and terrorise the population is a national duty," state news agency SANA quoted him as telling Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour.
An Assad adviser said neighbouring Turkey, which condemned the attack on Hama as an atrocity, should not meddle in Syrian affairs and warned Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu he would get a frosty reception when he visits Damascus on Tuesday.
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