Monday, August 8, 2011

Gulf states recall envoys as Syria further isolated

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain recalled their Damascus envoys as Sunni Islam's top body on Monday urged an end to the crisis in Syria, increasing the regional isolation of President Bashar al-Assad.

Hours after the Saudi envoy's recall, rights activists said security forces shot dead a mother and her two children in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, where 42 people were reported killed in an army assault on Sunday.

The recalls by Riyadh, the Arab world's Sunni Muslim heavyweight, and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members Kuwait and Bahrain marked a major escalation of pressure on Assad.

His regime's repression of a pro-democracy uprising has left at least 2,059 people dead, including almost 400 members of the security forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"Saudi Arabia announces the recall of its ambassador for consultations," King Abdullah said in a statement after Syrian security forces killed more than 50 people on Sunday.

He urged Damascus to "stop the killing machine and the bloodshed ... before it is too late." (more)