Agence France-Presse

6 Arab states close Syrian embassies

An embassy staffer peers through a glass door at an entrance of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, DC, on October 11, 2011.
Credit: Jewel Samad

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The 4 remaining Arab Gulf states followed Saudi Arabia and Bahrain's lead Friday and announced they will withdraw diplomatic staff from Damascus and close their Syrian embassies.

Abdullatif al-Zayani of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait are presenting a united front against Syria's bloody, year-long crackdown, AFP reported.

Zayani said the move comes in reaction to Syria "massacring its people, choosing the military option and rejecting all initiatives aimed at finding a solution to the crisis."

He made the announcement early on Friday.

The international community must "act urgently and decisively to stop the killings and massacres in Syria as well as the gross violations of the dignity and legitimate rights of the Syrians," Zayani said, according to AFP.

Earlier, Bahrain announced it was also closing its embassy in Syria and withdrawing all diplomatic staff as a result of worsening instability in the region, according to Reuters, which cited a Foreign Ministry statement carried by the Bahrain News Agency.

According to Reuters, the government also called on all Bahrainis in Syria to leave the country immediately and to exercise caution.

Saudi Arabia is a rival of Iran, which strongly backs the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The closure comes on the one year anniversary of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's rule, the Associated Press reported

On Thursday, government-sponsored protests marking the anniversary have have already drawn thousands to the center of Syria's capital city. The Assad regime called it the "Global March for Syria," The New York Times reported.

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In announcing the closure of its embassy, Saudi Arabia followed an earlier call by the GCC that all Arab League nations cut diplomatic relations with Damascus. 

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Italy also announced its embassy's closure, joining the UK, Canada, France, Spain, the United States, and others in severing diplomatic relations with Damascus.

The Italian foreign ministry expressed "the strongest condemnation of the unacceptable violence by the Syrian regime against its own citizens," the AP said.

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