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WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department on Friday urged Americans in Syria to leave the country immediately and advised those who remain in the country to restrict their movements, as the Syrian government intensified a violent crackdown on opposition protesters.
In a new travel warning, the department said Americans should depart Syria while commercial flights and other transportation are still available "given the ongoing uncertainty and volatility of the situation." It noted that Syrian authorities had imposed tight restrictions on the ability of U.S. and other diplomats to move around the country.
The US, French and German leaders have pledged to consider new steps to punish Syria after security forces shot dead at least 16 people as tens of thousands staged anti-regime protests on the first Friday of Ramadan.
"They welcomed the August 3 presidential statement by the UN Security Council condemning Syria's actions, but also agreed to consider additional steps to pressure the Assad regime and support the Syrian people."
The telephone consultations came as Washington appeared to be moving towards a direct call for Assad to leave, after saying this week his presence was now fomenting instability and leading the Middle East down a dangerous path.
ISTANBUL, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday confirmed that government authorities have intercepted an arms shipment from Iran to Syria, state-run Anatolian news agency said.