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Foreign Office warns against travel to Syria

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its advice on Syria and is now warning British citizens not to travel to the country unless the journey is essential. Alastair Burt, the minister for North Africa and the Middle East said that security in Syria was continuing to deteriorate. According to reports, 170 protestors have already lost their lives in the unrest of the last three weeks.

The demonstrations are against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad who has been in power for the last 11 years. Mr Burt advised all Brits currently in Syria avoid the demonstrations and any large crowds. He added that caution should be exercised at all time and that security awareness should be the top priority on roads and in public places.

According to reports from witnesses 23 demonstrators were killed at the end of last week in Deraa, a city in the south of the country. At the weekend, a security forces officer and three others were killed in the port of Baniyas. The FCO has advised that no one travel to these cities.

William Hague, the foreign secretary, has condemned the violence and said the authorities must accept the peoples' demand for political reform. International pressure is being placed on President Assad to cease his crackdown on protestors. An end to the bloodshed has been demanded by Germany, France, the United States and Britain.

Thousands have been joining protests across the country demanding reform. A student was killed by security forces as he protested at Damascus University in the Syrian capital.