U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power and piled pressure on Russia to back “tough” international action against his regime.
“The message to President Assad is, it is time for transition, it is time for you to go,” Cameron told a press conference today in the Afghan capital Kabul. When asked if he had a message for Syrian ally Russia, he said, “it’s time for the UN Security Council to pass clear and tough messages about sanctions and be unambiguous in this.”
The comments came a day after a bomb attack in Damascus killed key members of Syria’s military establishment, leaving Assad scrambling to stop his family’s four-decade grip on power unravelling.
The United Nations Security Council is due to vote today on a new resolution threatening Syria with non-military sanctions unless Assad complies with a UN peace plan that so far has failed to quell the 17-month conflict. A vote was postponed for another bout of diplomacy yesterday at the request of peace envoy Kofi Annan.
The resolution is tied to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the 15-member Security Council to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions and authorizes the use of military force if necessary.
Russia, which has twice blocked measures against its Soviet-era ally, has signalled it is again unwilling to concede. Responding to the blasts, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that “the UN has no business here.” A vote is scheduled for 10 a.m. in New York.
“I would appeal to those that in the past have held out against tough action against Syria: what more evidence do we need about a regime that has brutalized its own people,” Cameron said after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“The alternative to political transition at the top of Syria is revolution from the bottom in Syria,” he said. “It is in everybody’s interest that that the transition takes place. The sooner that happens, the sooner the people of Syria can be freed from the tyranny under which they are currently suffering.”
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