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Gulf states join US, France and Germany in Syria condemnation

media Military vehicles are transported on the highway from Talbiseh in Homs towards Hama in this still image taken from video posted on a social media website on 4 August 2011. Social media website via Reuters TV

The Gulf Cooperation Council on Saturday added to a growing chorus of pressure on Damascus after the Syrian regime shot dead at least 22 people on Friday as tens of thousands staged anti-government protests.

The six-member council called for an "immediate end to violence... and bloodshed," following a deadly crackdown on the first Friday of Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting.

That Gulf states’ call followed a pledge by the US, France and Germany to consider new steps to punish the Bashar al-Assad regime.

President Barack Obama spoke separately to France's Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

"The leaders condemned the regime's continued use of indiscriminate violence against the Syrian people," a White House statement said Friday.

They "also agreed to consider additional steps to pressure the Assad regime and support the Syrian people," it added.

The telephone consultations came as Washington appeared to be moving towards a direct call for Assad to leave.

The government has sought to crush the democracy movement with brutal force, killing around 1,650 civilians and arresting thousands of dissenters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Group.

Assad's regime blames the unrest on "armed terrorist gangs".



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