Washington: The US has called for more international sanctions on Syria as the government’s violent crackdown on dissent continues. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that China and India in particular could increase pressure because of their energy investments. She said the US did not want to call for Mr Assad to stand down without getting the backing of other countries.
Activists say the army killed at least 24 people on Thursday and new protests flared after dawn prayers on Friday.
More than 1,700 people have died and tens of thousands of people have reportedly been arrested since the uprising against the the 41-year rule of President Bashar al-Assad’s family began in March.
This week, Washington added to its existing sanctions on Syria by including its main commercial bank and mobile phone company, and warned that more could follow.
But in an interview with CBS News, Mrs Clinton said other countries also needed to exercise their influence over the regime.
“What we really need to do to put the pressure on Assad is to sanction the oil and gas industry,” she said, citing Europe, China and India as powers with energy investments in Syria and adding that the US also wanted Russia to stop selling arms to the Assad regime.
When asked why Washington has not called yet outright for Mr Assad to stand down, Mrs Clinton said the US was focusing on “building the chorus of international condemnation”.
“Rather than us saying it and nobody else following, we think it’s important to lead and have others follow as well.”
Amer al-Sadeq, a member of the anti-government Syrian Revolution Co-ordinators’ Union, has told the BBC economic sanctions would be a boost to the opposition movement.