Clinton Blasts Gadaffi 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Syrian tanks and armored vehicles swept into the coastal city of Latakia on
Saturday and gunfire was heard in a district where thousands had protested
against President Bashar Assad, an activist group said.
took place a day after security forces shot dead 20 people during nationwide
marches in which demonstrators called for Assad’s overthrow and vowed to “kneel
only to God.”
Syria would be better off without Assad, US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton said on Friday. She called on nations that buy oil or sell
arms to Syria to cut those ties.
“We urge those countries still buying
Syrian oil or 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 said.
Around 20 military vehicles
deployed on Saturday near the Ramle district in Latakia, where 10,000 people had
demonstrated on Friday, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Syria’s oil industry, with which the Assad family has close links, generates
most of the state’s hard currency from crude output of 380,000 barrels per
While Syria exports crude oil, its refinery capacity is not
sufficient to meet domestic demand for fuel. Trading sources said Swiss oil
traders Vitol and Trafigura agreed to supply state firm Sytrol with 60,000 tons
of gasoline this week.
The global campaign group Avaaz urged European
nations on Friday to impose immediate restrictions on purchases of Syrian oil,
to “dry up” funding of Assad’s forces. More than 150,000 Avaaz members had
signed a petition to that effect, it said.
Meanwhile, Turkish President
Abdullah Gul warned Assad not to leave reforms until it is too late, in a letter
delivered to the Syrian president last week, Turkey’s state-run Anatolian news
agency reported on Friday.
Part of a campaign of Turkish pressure on
Syria, for whom Turkey has been an important ally, the letter was delivered by
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu when he visited Damascus and held talks with
Assad on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to see you looking back one day and
regretting that what you have done was too little and too late,” Anatolian
quoted Gul as writing in the letter, saying Turkish people were saddened by the
bloodshed in Syria.
“Leading the change instead of being carried away by
the winds of change will place [you] in a historical position,” Gul
Davutoglu demanded last week that Syria’s leaders stop the killing
of civilians involved in unrest against Assad’s autocratic rule, saying events
in the coming days would be critical.
Activists say more than 1,700
civilians have been killed in the counterinsurgency so far.
Washington imposed sanctions on Syria’s largest bank and its biggest mobile
telephone company, controlled by Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf. The next day, US
Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford said more sanctions would follow if the
Syrian authorities did not halt the violence.