Western and Arab powers at the ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting in Tunis cranked up the pressure on Syria’s President Assad to stop killing his own people.
The US Secretary of State said Assad and his forces had brought a humanitarian catastrophe to the country, and the regime will have even more blood on its hands if it does not allow aid to reach civilians.
Hillary Clinton said: “I speak directly to those who are supporting Assad, including members of his security forces. Their continuing to kill their brothers and sisters is a stain on their honour. Their refusal to continue this slaughter will make them heroes in the eyes of not only Syrians, but people of conscience everywhere.”
France said Syria’s central bank assets will be frozen by the EU.
The main opposition movement though, the Syrian National Council, expressed disappointement that the gathering did not go beyond sanctions, embargoes and travel bans. Its leader Burhan Ghalioun said it had fallen short of the aspirations of the Syrian people.
Saudi Arabia appeared to agree, saying the arming of Assad’s opponents would be an ‘excellent idea’.
There were ugly scenes outside the conference, as hundreds of President Assad’s supporters clashed with Tunisian security forces. The protesters had tried to force their way into the building before the meeting had begun.