Obama calls on Syria’s Assad to step down

A government loyalists holds up a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a protest

President Barack Obama on Thursday will call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and slap new sanctions on his government in a toughening of the U.S. stance toward the Syrian leader, a U.S. official said.

The White House will shortly issue a “very tough” new executive order from Obama sanctioning Syria, a senior U.S. official said. “We believe that this strong action will lend additional force to the president’s words,” the official said.

Obama’s move will be followed by a statement from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sources say the moves are intended to sharply ratchet up pressure on Syria, where Assad has engaged in a brutal crackdown against protesters seeking an end to the 41-year rule by Assad and his late father, Hafez al-Assad.

The U.S. sanctions and demand for Assad’s exit are expected to be followed by similar calls from other powers, notably the European Union.

Washington has been edging closer to an explicit call for Assad to go since Syrian protesters began to demonstrate against his rule in March, inspired by revolts that toppled autocratic rulers in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.

The United States held off initially in hopes that Assad might reverse course and embrace democratic reforms, a possibility that U.S. officials appear to have given up on.

As recently as last week, however, U.S. officials said Obama was leaning toward an explicit call for Assad’s departure but they made clear they wanted other nations to make a similar appeal.

The expected U.S. and European Union action comes as a U.N. investigative team said Syria’s crackdown may constitute crimes against humanity.

The United Nations said late on Wednesday that al-Assad told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that military and police operations against protesters had stopped.

The government’s crackdown in Syria is estimated to have killed at least 2,000 civilians. Authorities appear to have accelerated their efforts to crush the protests in the past several weeks.

Obama consulted on Saturday with Saudi King Abdullah and British Prime Minister David Cameron. In both cases, the first specific topic mentioned in the White House descriptions of the phone calls was Syria.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…