US Says Syria’s Assad ‘Must Go’

Posted November 9th, 2011 at 7:20 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. officials say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule is coming to an end as U.S. and international sanctions and the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people are having their intended effect.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State , Jeffrey Feldman told the Senate Foreign Affairs subcommittee Wednesday, Syrian oil revenue is now almost non-existent and Damascus' assets in U.S. and European banks have been frozen.

Feldman said Syria is cut off from most of the international financial system and as cash starts to dry up, more Syrians see that the regime is not sustainable. He urged the Arab League to take a tougher stance against the Damascus government as part of a coordinated global effort to force Mr. Assad from power through non-military means.

Meanwhile, the government's deadly crackdown on protests across Syria continued. A Syrian rights group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told VOA 17 people were killed Wednesday, six of them in the capital.

The causality figures could not be independently verified because Syria bars most foreign journalists from operating in the country.

The U.N. human rights office says at least 3,500 people have been killed in the country since the uprising began in March.

Also Wednesday, Washington again advised Mr. Assad's opponents not to accept the government's offer of amnesty if they surrender weapons, given its brutal track record of lawlessness, torture and thuggery against the opposition.

Last week, the Damascus government said it was giving armed protestors a week to turn themselves in. It said those who surrendered and had not killed anyone would be released in a short time.

But the U.S. State Department warned opponents would be “unwise” to accept the offer. The initial U.S. admonition against the move drew an angry response from Damascus, which charged that the United States was encouraging sedition, murder and terrorism.

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the hostile Syrian reaction to the U.S. comments was part of an effort by Damascus to inject the United States into the conflict that he said is really between the Syrian government and its own people.

The Arab League, meanwhile, has called an emergency meeting for Saturday to discuss what it calls Syria's failure to end the violent crackdown on the uprising. Under the Arab League peace plan signed by Syria last week, Damascus promised to withdraw security forces from the streets and start a dialogue with the opposition.