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Washington insists Assad should quit

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Washington insists Assad should quit


US President Barack Obama told Syrian leader Bashar al Assad to step down on Thursday, because of the ongoing, violent oppression of pro-democracy protesters.

The call came as Washington imposed new sanctions on Assad and his officials.

“His (Obama’s) executive order immediately freezes all assets of the government of Syria that are subject to American jurisdiction and prohibits American citizens from engaging in any transactions with the government of Syria or investing in that country,” said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Earlier the European Union also called on Assad to quit. The bloc is due to extend a list of Syrian entities targeted by sanctions.

Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Assad had lost his “legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people”.

Syria’s leader told the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that military and police operations against protesters have stopped.

Despite video footage showing troops leaving part of the city of Latakia after an assault that killed up to 36 people, activists reported more violence in the last 24 hours.

A UN investigative team warned on Thursday that Syria’s violent killing of close to 2,000 demonstrators may constitute crimes against humanity.

Their report described how government troops often fired on peaceful protesters without warning and at close range.

The team urged the UN Security Council to “consider referring the situation to the International Criminal Court”.

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