Cameron says Syria will face 'day of reckoning'

British PM says "dreadful" Syrian regime will be held responsible for violence; European Council meets in Brussels to discuss increasing pressure on Assad, including sanctions.

March 2, 2012 12:15
2 minute read.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron

UK Prime Minister David Cameron 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)

BRUSSELS - British Prime Minister David Cameron called on Friday for a "day of reckoning" when the Syrian regime would be judged and held responsible for the violence during the year-long uprising against President Bashar Assad.

"We need to start collecting the evidence now so that one day, no matter how long it takes, there will be a day of reckoning for this dreadful regime," Cameron told reporters as he arrived for the second day of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

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"What I think matters is building the evidence and the picture so we hold this criminal regime to account and to make sure that it is held to account for its crimes that it is committing against its people," Cameron said.

Cameron was speaking the day after defeated Syrian rebels left their stronghold of Homs, and ahead of the second day of a meeting in Brussels of the European Council, a gathering of EU heads of state and government.

The Council was planning to call for increased pressure on Assad, including sanctions, according to a draft of its conclusions. It was also preparing to urge the Arab League to convene a meeting of the Syrian National Council, which it said it recognized as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

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"The European Council confirms its commitment to further increasing the pressure on the Syrian regime as long as the violence and human rights abuses continue, and invites the Council to prepare further targeted restrictive measures against the regime," the Council's draft read.

The EU has over the past months been adding names to a list of people it sanctions with travel bans and asset freezes.

In the most recent move, the bloc on Tuesday imposed sanctions on seven Syrian cabinet ministers it said were providing material help for the violence. They included Health Minister Health Minister Wael al-Halki because of his role in denying protesters medical care.

EU leaders were also planning to emphasize the importance of access for independent aid agencies so that assistance may be provided to those in need in line with humanitarian principles. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it would bring aid to the shattered district of Baba Amro in Homs on Friday, having finally received a "green light" from Syrian authorities.

Armed rebels and defecting soldiers have been spearheading the revolt against Assad, which began with largely peaceful protests inspired by the Arab Spring but escalated after a bloody government crackdown.

The United Nations says Syrian security forces have killed more than 7,500 civilians since the revolt began last March. Syria's government said in December that "armed terrorists" had killed more than 2,000 soldiers and police during the unrest.

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