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Syria Shells Protesters’ Towns as Assad Enacts Constitution

Syrian forces bombarded cities where opposition is concentrated as President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree enacting a constitution that he says will introduce political pluralism after almost a year of violence.

Assad, facing international pressure to end his crackdown on dissent, is seeking to affirm his mandate as Syria’s leader following a Feb. 26 referendum. The European Union, which dismissed the vote’s validity, decided yesterday to tighten sanctions. The official Syrian Arab News Agency said 89 percent of voters backed the charter, which promises democratic elections while limiting presidents to two seven-year terms.