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
Local

Police seek mother of slain 11-year-old on involuntary…

Police are seeking the mother of an 11-year-old girl who was accidentally shot to death by her 2-year-old brother two weeks ago on involuntary manslaughter…

Local

Chestnut Hill College student found dead Wednesday morning

A 22-year-0ld Chestnut Hill College student was found dead this morning inside a college dormitory, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 16: 'The Americans,'…

'The Americans' Philip and Elizabeth face "painful turns" in their missions. Maybe next week they'll have a nice easy mission with no moral ambiguity? Probably…

Movies

Review: 'Bears' is a cute Disney doc about…

Disney's latest nature doc, "Bears," doesn't completely shy away from the fact that its subjects would devour you (or eachother) if they had the chance.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Food

Wahlbergs expanding Wahlburgers fast food joint across North…

Wahlburgers will open new restaurants in Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia.

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…