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Jordan, Turkey join calls for Syria to end the violence

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Syrian coastal city remains under fire
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jordan's prime minister calls on Damascus "to immediately halt military operations"
  • "We hope our voice is heard," the Turkish foreign minister says
  • Government-run media deny the claims of civilian casualties
  • More than 2,500 people have died since the uprising began, activists say

(CNN) -- Two of Syria's neighbors joined growing international calls Monday for Damascus to halt its violent crackdown on anti-government protesters -- calls that came even as the violence itself continued.

In Jordan, the state-run Petra News Agency reported that Prime Minister Marouf Al Bakhit had urged his Syrian counterpart, Adel Safar, "to immediately halt military operations, implement speedy reform and spare the blood of the Syrian people, expressing the kingdom's rejection and regret over the continued killing and escalation in neighboring Syria."

Al Bakhit told Safar in a telephone call that "such scenes" must stop, adding that "hope still exists on the ability of our brothers in Syria to achieve this end."

"We in Jordan await tangible and urgent measures in the near future," he said.

Similar sentiments were voiced in Ankara by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu after his recent visit to Damascus. He told reporters in a televised news conference he had asked that the Syrian military end operations immediately, withdraw from cities and meet the democratic demands of the people.

Syrian forces attack Latakia
Violence spreads in Syria
Syria protests go on despite crackdowns
RELATED TOPICS
  • Syria
  • Bashar Assad
  • Arab Spring

"Syrian people should know that we are on their side with regard to their legitimate democratic rights," he said. "We hope our voice is heard and these operations are stopped."

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Turkish President Abdullah Gul met Monday with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and both "underscored the significance of halting the violence the Syrian administration is resorting to against people," Gul's office said in a statement.

Last week, King Abdullah called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and recalled the Saudi ambassador from Damascus.

Bahrain and Kuwait also have recalled their ambassadors from Syria and called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the crackdowns.

The United States has stopped short of explicit calls for al-Assad to step down, but Washington has said Syria would be better off without him. The United States slapped sanctions on Syria's largest mobile phone company and a bank, while calling for an oil and gas embargo.

The international entreaties and condemnations came as more than 5,000 Palestinians were reported to have fled a U.N. refugee camp in the port city of Latakia after the camp came under fire from Syrian security forces.

Some of the refugees had been asked to leave by the Syrian security forces, and some left on their own because they were afraid for their lives, said Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

The agency had had no communication with the refugees, and was not sure where they had gone, he said.

"We are asking the Syrian government for immediate access to the Palestinians, as their well-being is our responsibility," Gunness told CNN. "We need to get in there to assess the situation."

The refugee camp in Latakia normally holds 10,000 people.

"Reports from various sources indicate deaths and casualties among the Palestinian refugee population, although poor communications make it impossible to confirm the exact number of dead and injured," the agency said Sunday.

It demanded access to the area so that humanitarian workers can take care of the casualties.

Also Monday, a day after opposition groups told CNN that Syrian security forces backed by gunships killed at least 25 people in a crackdown on protesters in Latakia, security forces began urging residents to evacuate or risk being arrested or killed, an activist there told CNN. Gunfire and explosions could be heard Monday, said the resident, who lives outside the al-Ramel neighborhood, which has been the focus of the military campaign.

Monday was the third consecutive day that the area has had neither power nor water, he said.

At one checkpoint, security forces shot at fleeing residents, killing six, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Another man was killed Monday by sniper fire in the Homs province town of Al Houla, which was besieged by tanks on all sides, and pro-regime "thugs" entered surrounding villages, it said.

Government-run media have denied the claims of civilian casualties.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said Monday that it had learned that in the city of Homs, relatives of a detained man received his body, which had been tortured. There have been at least 10 such deaths since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan on August 1, the agency said.

"The observatory holds the security forces officials who held them responsible for their death under torture and calls for their trial so they can be punished for the crimes they have committed against the Syrian people," it said in a statement.

It said more than 700 people have been taken into custody in "random" arrest campaigns since Ramadan got under way.

Violence countrywide took at least 42 lives Sunday, said one anti-government activist group, which collects lists of victims' names.

CNN cannot independently verify opposition or government claims, because Syria has restricted international journalists from reporting inside the country.

The crackdown in Latakia is the latest in a series of military actions, coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, that are targeting protesters calling for free elections and the ouster of al-Assad.

The Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union also reported deaths in the cities of Howlah and Hama.

In all, 2,530 people have died since the uprising began in March, according to the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria. Most were civilians, while 391 belonged to Syria's security forces, it says.

CNN's Amir Ahmed, Arwa Damon, Nada Husseini and Yesim Comert contributed to this report.

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