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Syrian Opposition Meets in Damascus, Calls on Assad to Stop Crackdown


National Democratic Change activists at their meeting in Damascus, September 18, 2011.

National Democratic Change activists at their meeting in Damascus, September 18, 2011.

Dozens of Syrian opposition members have convened in the capital, Damascus, to call on President Bashar al-Assad to end his deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters across the country.

The National Democratic Change group organized the weekend meeting, attended by a group of opposition figures, including leading writer Michel Kilo, Arab and Kurdish nationalists, Islamists and secularists. They called on Syrians to continue their peaceful movement against Assad's rule and urged the government to stop all acts of repression and violence against citizens.

Most other opposition meetings have taken place outside of Syria. Inside the country, the U.N. estimates some 2,600 people have died in the bloody government crackdown.

Last week, Syrian security forces shot and killed at least 15 people as they conducted raids and fired on protesters who flooded streets after Friday prayers.

Syrian activists say the killings took place across the country, from the northwestern region of Jabal al-Zawiya, to the southern province of Deraa, to the central province of Hama.

The violence follows United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for a "coherent" international response to Syria's violent crackdown against dissent, as the uprisings entered their seventh month.

Ban accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of "escalating violence and repression" and ignoring appeals to stop state-sponsored violence. The U.N. chief said "enough is enough" regarding Assad's broken promises of reform.

On Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the chorus of condemnation against the violence in Syria. He predicted the fall of the Assad government, saying the era of oppressive dictators is past.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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