BRUSSELS - The European Union told Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday to step down, joining a similar call by the United States in a bid to toughen pressure against his government.
The EU's 27 governments also threatened to extend its sanctions against Assad's government but, unlike Washington, stopped short of announcing specific new measures for now.
"The EU has repeatedly emphasized that the brutal repression must be stopped ... The Syrian leadership, however, has remained defiant," the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
"This shows that the Syrian regime is unwilling to change ... The EU notes the complete loss of Bashar Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside," she said.