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New US sanctions against top Syrian officials

New US sanctions against top Syrian officials
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The latest round of Syrian killings at anti-government demonstrations has spurred the United States to impose new sanctions against senior government figures.

A Syrian human rights group claims security forces killed 62 people protesting around the country on Friday against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: ‘The sanctions that were announced are intended to show the Syrian government that its behaviour and actions are going to be held to account and they must begin taking steps to respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people and respect the rights of their people.’

The sanctions target several of Assad’s family who are believed to have played key roles in the brutal crackdown. But a White House official said Obama was ‘not ready’ to call for Assad to go.

Brian Katulis from the liberal think-tank The Center for American Progress said: ‘At this stage, there’s certainly a double standard in play here. We acted in Libya because we could. We are not acting in Syria in a similar (way), because the military options and others are simply not available in a place like Syria.’

In six weeks, demonstrators have continued their challenge to 48 years of authoritarian rule defying heavy military deployments and mass arrests

Human rights campaigners there say 500 protesters have been killed, a figure the government claims is grossly exaggerated.