U.S. officials said Tuesday the Obama administration is preparing to explicitly call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down in coming days and hit his regime with tough new sanctions.
At the same time the US State Department signaled for the first time that American efforts to engage the government are finally over.
Officials speaking to foreign media on condition of anonymity said The White House is expected to lay out the tougher line by the end of this week, possibly on Thursday.
Accordingly, the administration will first consult with the UN Security Council as the Treasury Department prepares a new set of sanctions aimed at Assad’s family and his government.
They further said the move will be a direct response to Assad’s decision to step up the ruthlessness of the crackdown against pro-reform demonstrators.
Meanwhile Syria’s state news agency reported, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Turkey’s top diplomat during six hours of talks on Tuesday that his government wouldn’t give up its fight against what it calls terrorists, despite international calls for a halt to the crackdown on antigovernment protesters.