Arab States, Top Sunni Clerical Body Condemn Syria as Crackdown Mounts

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait recall their ambassadors from Damascus; head of world's oldest Sunni religious establishment calls for end to Syria 'tragedy.'

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Two more Gulf states summoned their ambassadors to Syria for "consultation" on Monday, 24 hours after Saudi Arabia recalled its envoy from Damascus, as a besieged Syrian city came under fresh artillery fire.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said that the kingdom "summoned its ambassador in Syria for consultation."

The renewed violence in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour comes a day after at least 42 people were killed there in an intensifying government crackdown on protesters.

Earlier, Kuwait said it has summoned its ambassador to Syria for "consultation," Foreign Minister Mohamed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah said.

Syrian tank driving down a street in Deir el-Zour, Sunday Aug. 7, 2011.Credit: AP

He said that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will hold a foreign ministers meeting soon to discuss developments in Syria.

The two Gulf states followed Saudi King Abdullah's announcement on Sunday that he would recall the kingdom's envoy for consultations and called on Damascus to implement swift and all-out reforms.

The stance of the three Gulf states is part of international and Arab pressure against President Bashar Assad's government after security forces killed hundreds in the past week and defended its crackdown on protesters, who it called "outlaws."

Also, the world's oldest Sunni religious establishment, Al-Azhar, called for an end to the "tragedy" in Syria, after the situation had "exceeded all limits."

The head of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, said the institution "was patient for a long time and avoided talking about the situation in Syria because of its sensitive nature."

"But it has exceeded all limits and there must be an end to this Arab-Islamic tragedy," al-Tayeb added.

Syria's government has sought to crush the democracy movement, calling for Assad's ouster, with force, leaving at least 2,059 people dead, including 391 members of the security forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Damascus has been blaming the unrest in Syria since it started in mid March on "armed gangs" whom it said are financed by the west and some Arab countries.

Earlier Monday, a Syrian state-owned daily lashed out against Saudi Arabia's decision to recall its envoy to Syria.

Al-Watan newspaper said Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz's recent statements on the Syrian situation "appeared to be representing a US threat more than a 'brotherly' message."

It added that King Abdullah's message "not only surprised the Syrian people but also Riyadh's envoy in Damascus, Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz al-Eifan, who was recalled by his government unexpectedly."

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