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Syria army 'pulls back' from Baniyas and Deraa

14 May 2011 Last updated at 16:24 BST

Syrian officials have said that soldiers and tanks are being pulled out of the coastal city of Baniyas and the main flashpoint centre of Deraa in the south.

They also said a national dialogue on reforms would begin in all provinces next week.

Activists say at least 700 people have been killed in two months of protests - a figure the UN has described as credible.

Syrian authorities are preventing international journalists from entering, so our correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones reports from Beirut.