By Ria Novosti
The United States is preparing to issue an explicit call for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, CNN reported on Wednesday, quoting U.S. government sources.
The statement is expected to be made after U.S. officials consult with the UN Security Council, the sources said. The issue has reportedly been under discussion over the past few weeks.
So far, the United States has only urged the Syrian authorities to immediately end violence against protesters and launch full-scale democratic reforms to put an end to a five-month conflict that has already claimed some 2,000 lives.
According to the sources, the White House is more eager to make the statement, while the Department of State is being more cautious about the ramifications should al-Assad ignore the call.
The Security Council is expected on Wednesday to follow up on its last week’s presidential statement condemning violence in Syria, but no immediate escalation of that statement is expected because of Russia and China’s opposition, the report said.
The Treasury Department is planning to impose new sanctions on members of the Assad family and officials linked to the Syrian regime, an unidentified U.S. government official was quoted as saying.
International pressure on the Assad regime has increased over the past few days, after more than 300 people were killed in a government crackdown on protesters in just a week.
The Arab League has condemned the bloodshed in Syria in its strongest statement since the beginning of the uprising in mid-March, while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have recalled their ambassadors from Damascus “for consultations” in a clear sign of disapproval of the military onslaught in Syria.
Turkey, Syria’s closest ally in the region, said it was “running out of patience” with his regime’s brutal crackdown on civilian demonstrators.
The government intensified its crackdown on protesters with the beginning of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, fearing that the dissent would use massive daily prayers at mosques to organize larger protests.