Clinton urges countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas

US secretary of state urges world leaders supporting Assad and sending him weapons "to get on the right side of history."

August 12, 2011 19:57
1 minute read.
Hillary Clinton

Clinton 311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

WASHINGTON - The United States on Friday called on countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas as it sought to build pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to end a brutal crackdown against protesters who oppose his rule.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said the best way to influence Syria was to sanction its energy industry, said "stay tuned" when asked what progress the United States had made in persuading Europe, India or China to curtail their energy ties with Damascus.

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Speaking at a news conference with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, Clinton stopped short of explicitly calling for Assad's departure.

"We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality, to get on the right side of history," she told reporters after meeting Store.

"President Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead and it is clear that Syria would be better off without him," she added, echoing previous comments by the Obama administration.

Syrian forces fired live ammunition at protesters coming out of a main mosque after Friday prayers in the besieged city of Deir al-Zor, witnesses said, as demonstrations against the Assad family's 41-year rule resumed elsewhere in the country.

Activists say more than 1,700 civilians in all have been killed in the military crackdown on protests against Assad which broke out in March. Syria blames the violence on armed groups, who it says have killed 500 soldiers and police.

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