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Gulf states close embassies in Damascus as Syrians mark revolt anniversary

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Member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have decided to shut down their embassies in Syria over the “Syrian regime’s persistence in killing and tormenting Syrian people,” the bloc Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani has said in a statement.

Zayani was quoted by the Saudi Press Agency as saying that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad’s “insistence on the military option and ignoring all efforts for a way out of the tragic situation lived by the brotherly Syrian people.”

The closures come after Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announced that their missions to Syria would be shuttered.

On Wednesday Said Arabia said it was closing its embassy in Damascus and withdrawing all its staff and diplomats there.

Saudi Arabia, which has repeatedly pressed for world action against Damascus and called for rebels to be armed, was one of six Gulf monarchies to expel Syria’s ambassadors and withdraw their own in February.

The latest Gulf move came as Syrians marked the first year anniversary of their uprising and as the regime forces pressed their military offensive in the northern province of Idlib on Thursday, driving 1,000 refugees across the Turkish border as the bloody revolt against President Bashar al-Assad entered a second year with no sign of political solution.

Forty-five civilians were killed in the frontier province, including 23 whose bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs, as well as five army deserters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.

The bloodshed and continued flow of refugees prompted Turkey to suggest it might support a “buffer zone” inside Syria, a move likely to enrage Damascus.

Four members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced the closures of their embassies in Syria in protest against its violent crackdown, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said, quoting a