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MIDDLE EAST

Norway closes embassy in Syria

Norway said on Monday it was closing its embassy in Damascus for security reasons, following other countries that have done the same for safety concerns or to protest against the regime's crackdown.

Several European Union countries, as well as the United States, Turkey and six Gulf state monarchies have already shut their missions.

A Norwegian diplomat will remain in Damascus, working from the Danish embassy to handle Norway's affairs, the foreign ministry said.

At the beginning of February, Oslo announced it was reducing its diplomatic staff in the Syrian capital amid the spreading violence.

A brutal crackdown on protests in Syria has left at least 9,100 people dead since March last year, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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SYRIA

Nato ally Norway suspends new arms exports to Turkey

Norway, a Nato ally of Turkey, announced Thursday it was suspending all new arms exports to the country after Ankara launched a military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

Nato ally Norway suspends new arms exports to Turkey
Smoke rising from the Syrian town of Tal Abyad on October 10th. Photo: AFP

“Given that the situation is complex and changing quickly, the foreign ministry as a precautionary measure will not handle any new demands for exports of defence material or material for multiple uses… to Turkey,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said in an email sent to AFP.

She added that the ministry would also review all licenses for arms exportation that have already been issued.

Syria's Kurds, who were the West's allies in the fight against Islamic State group jihadists, were battling Thursday to hold off a Turkish invasion as thousands of civilians fled air strikes and shelling that deepened fears of a humanitarian crisis and raised international alarm.

Finland, which is not a member of the Nato alliance, announced on Wednesday the suspension of all new arms exports to Turkey or any other country involved in the fighting.

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