Syrian regime `won`t back down first`

Syria`s uprising began a year ago with peaceful protests against President Bashar Assad`s regime.

Beirut: A Syrian official says Damascus will not pull troops from cities and towns engulfed in the country`s unrest before life returns to normal in these areas.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi told state TV late Friday the military is in these cities "in a state of self defence and protecting civilians”.

He spoke just hours after the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan`s office appealed on Syria`s government to stop military activities first as "the stronger party" and in a "gesture of good faith”.

Syria`s uprising began a year ago with peaceful protests against President Bashar Assad`s regime. In the face of a fierce crackdown, it has become increasingly militarised. The rebels now demand Assad`s ouster.

The UN estimates more than 9,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

Bureau Report

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