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EU concerned by Syria violence, calls for opposition accord

(AFP) / 19 October 2012

European leaders said on Friday they are concerned by the increasing violence in Syria and want opposition groups there to cooperate to ensure a peaceful change of government.

The 27 EU leaders voiced “deep concern with the increasingly deteriorating situation,” in a draft summit statement seen by AFP.

“All opposition groups should agree on a set of shared principles in order to achieve an inclusive, orderly and peaceful transition,” the draft said.

Earlier this week, EU foreign ministers adopted a 19th round of sanctions against Damascus, imposing an assets freeze and travel ban on 28 Syrians and two firms to put pressure on President Bashar Al Assad.

International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is trying to secure a truce in Syria for the holiday of Eid Al Adha, will arrive in Damascus on Friday as fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Al Assad intensifies.The 19-month conflict has so far claimed more than 34,000 lives.

EU leaders said they fully supported Brahimi’s efforts, endorsed the increased sanctions and called on all parties to do their utmost for a peaceful solution.

In addition, they strongly condemned the recent Syrian shelling of Turkish border territories — which sparked retaliation in kind — and stressed the need to prevent escalation.

The EU will continue to provide humanitarian assistance for refugees and those displaced by the conflict, the draft added.

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