US hardens line on Syria`s Assad

The US described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the "cause of instability" in his country.

Washington: The United States said on Wednesday it had no interest in seeing Syria`s President Bashar al-Assad survive simply to preserve regional "stability”, hardening its line on a "grotesque" crackdown on dissent.

Some analysts have speculated that Washington has been wary of directly calling for Assad to quit because of anxiety that sectarian chaos, civil war and a Middle East power vacuum might follow the demise of his regime.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Washington did not view Assad as "indispensable”, saying he was completely "incapable and unwilling" to respond to the grievances of his own people.

"The US has nothing invested in Assad remaining in power. We do not want to see him remain in Syria for stability`s sake and rather we view him as the cause of instability in Syria," Carney said.

With the White House under increasing pressure for tougher action against Damascus from Syrian dissidents and on Capitol Hill, Carney said the administration was looking for new leverage against Assad.

"We are looking at ways to increase the pressure. The images coming out of Syria of the Syrian government`s brutality against its own people have been grotesque and appalling, and they demonstrate the true character of the regime."

Carney spoke as the United Nations Security Council condemned the Syrian government`s deadly crackdown on protests and called for those responsible to be held "accountable”, as tanks stormed the protest hub of Hama.

Syrian dissidents had urged Obama on Tuesday to call on Assad to quit power and pressed for UN sanctions over the regime`s deadly crackdown on protests.

Some members of the US Congress are meanwhile calling for sanctions against foreign companies doing business with Syria`s energy sector.

Under toughened sanctions, the United States currently bans most export and import trade with Syria, but the measures do not extend to foreign companies.

One of the senators behind the move, Kirsten Gillibrand, said the initiative would isolate Syria from the global economy until Assad`s regime responds to the democratic appeals by its people.

Human rights activists said hundreds of government tanks were massed Wednesday inside Syria near the protest hubs of Hama and Deir Ezzor.

Some 1,600 civilians and 370 members of the security forces have been killed since pro-democracy protests erupted in Syria in mid-March.

Bureau Report

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