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Security forces have shot dead four soldiers trying to desert, as China voiced concern over events in Syria and Damascus accused the West of trying to unleash ‘total chaos’ in the country.

‘Four soldiers in Maar Shamsa in (northwestern) Idlib were shot dead while trying to flee the Wadi Deif military camp,‘ the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday, also reporting gunfire, arrests and murders.

In New York, China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi highlighted Beijing’s concern over Syria in a speech at the UN General Assembly.

In a call to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and opposition demonstrators, Yang said ‘we hope that parties in Syria will exercise restraint, avoid any form of violence or more bloodshed and conflict, and act quickly to ease tension’.

The international community should ‘handle the Syrian issue in a prudent way so as to prevent further turbulence in Syria and its repercussions on regional peace’, Yang said.

China has joined Russia in leading opposition to UN sanctions against the Assad government in Syria, where the United Nations says that more than 2700 people have been killed since March.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China to back strong UN action on Syria when she met Yang just before his speech, a senior US official said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused the West of trying to unleash ‘total chaos’ in Syria that will lead its break-up, telling the UN General Assembly the protests have become a ‘pretext for foreign interventions’.

Muallem said foreign governments sought to undermine co-existence between Syria’s different religious groups.

‘How can we otherwise explain media provocations, financing and arming religious extremism?’ he said.

‘What purpose could this serve other than total chaos that would dismember Syria – and consequently adversely affect its neighbours?’

SKy News

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