WASHINGTON – The United States is gearing for Syria's post-Assad era: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with several US-based Syrian activists and opposition leaders in Washington Tuesday, as the American administration mulls more sanctions against Damascus.
The meeting is the first overt indication that Washington is willing to work with the Syrian opposition. Washington believes Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime is likely to see its end in the coming months.
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Diplomatic elements in the international community have strongly denounced the escalating crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by Damascus forces.
The UN Security Council has been unable, thus far, to formulate harsher sanctions against Assad.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the US plans to "move forward with additional sanctions under existing authorities" and it is "exploring the scope" of these sanctions: "Our goal here is to isolate the Assad regime politically and deny it revenue with which to sustain its brutality," Toner said.
The latest sanctions' draft at the UN was torpedoed on Tuesday by Russia and India. The Arab League is also refusing to cooperate with Washington on the matter.
The US has been building up pressure on Syria in recent months, including slapping sanctions on Assad, his inner circle and assets controlled by the Syrian government.
US President Barack Obama has vowed America will continue to increase pressure on Syria to isolate Assad and his government.
During the meeting, Clinton expressed "her sympathy for the victims of the Assad regime's abuses," and her "admiration for the courage of the brave Syrian people who continue to defy the government's brutality in order to express their universal rights.
"The United States will continue to support the Syrian people in their efforts to begin a peaceful and orderly transition to democracy in Syria and to have their aspirations realized. We have nothing invested in the continuation of a regime that must kill, imprison and torture its own citizens to maintain power," Clinton said in a statement released after the meeting.
"Our view remains that strong action by the Security Council on the targeting of innocent civilians in Syria is long overdue. Some members of the Security Council continue to oppose any action that would call on President Assad to stop the killing, and we urge them to reconsider their positions," the statement concluded.
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