Aug. 18 - For the first time the United States has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign after a brutal crackdown on demonstrators. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
The United States says it is time for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to the press after the White House released a statement for U.S. President Barack Obama. SOUNDBITE: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: (English) "The people of Syria deserve a government that respects their dignity respects their rights and lives up to their aspirations. Assad is standing in their way. The time has come for him to step aside and that is what we will continue to work to achieve. This is the first time the US has called on Assad to step down after a brutal crackdown by Syrian forces on demonstrations against his family's 41-year reign illustrated by this amateur video of Syria which could not be independently verified by Reuters. The moves are intended to ratchet up pressure on Assad, who has used his military and security forces to attack protesters seeking an end to his regime. While the United States has previously called for Assad to embark on democratic reforms or to get out of the way, Obama's statement marks the first explicit call for him to go and seems to reflect a U.S. conclusion that he is incapable of reform. The U.S. sanctions and demand for Assad's exit were followed by similar calls from Britain, France and Germany. The new U.S. sanctions immediately freeze all Syrian government assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit any any transactions involving the Assad government. The United States has long accused Syria of being a state sponsor of terrorism, of meddling in the affairs of Lebanon, supporting Palestinian militants and stirring violence against U.S. forces in Iraq. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.