U.S. set to call for al-Assad to step down as violence mounts in Syria
August 10, 2011
The United States appears to be moving toward issuing an explicit call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, U.S. government sources have leaked. The news comes after several Arab nations condemned the violence, also prompting the United Nations Security Council to meet again Wednesday, a week after issuing a strong statement condemning the government crackdown on opposition protesters and calling for the violence to stop. The pressure is mounting on Assad as Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, also called on the Syrian government to end its bloody crackdown early Wednesday morning, after the two officials held a seven-hour meeting. Meanwhile heavy gunfire, explosions and tanks permeated the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on Wednesday, an activist group reported. Activists say Syrian forces have killed hundreds of people in recent days, with more than 30 reported killed on Tuesday alone. Assad has defended his crackdown on dissidents, saying it is a national duty to deal with what he called “outlaws” who block roads and, in his words, “terrorize” people.