US bans Syrian petrol, is certain Assad 'on his way out'

US freezes assets of Syrian government in US as part of new sanctions; Obama, EU say time has come for President Assad to step aside.

By REUTERS
August 18, 2011 18:26
2 minute read.
US President Obama on the phone [illustrative]

US President Barack Obama speaks on the phone 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters / White House)

WASHINGTON - The United States is certain that Syrian President Bashar Assad is "on his way out," a senior US official told reporters in a conference call on Thursday.

A second US official said that Washington was confident that US sanctions on Syria announced earlier by the White House would be followed by similar actions by other countries.


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The Obama administration on Thursday imposed fresh sanctions on Syria's government, freezing any of its assets in the United States as well as banning petroleum products of Syrian origin.

The latest round of sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government prohibit US entities, wherever located, from engaging in any transactions or dealings with Syrian petroleum products.

The administration also blacklisted a new round of Syrian companies, including the state-owned General Petroleum Corporation that controls the country's oil and gas industry.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday said it was time for Assad to resign, and said the United States was implementing tough new sanctions to help end violence in Syria.

"The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar Assad is standing in their way," Obama said in a statement. "His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people.

"For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside."

The European Union also told  Assad to step down Thursday.

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.

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