The United States on Friday called on countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas as it sought to build pressure on Syrian President Bashar aAssad to end a brutal crackdown against protesters who oppose his rule.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said the best way to influence Syria was to sanction its energy industry, said "stay tuned" when asked what progress the United States had made in persuading Europe, India or China to curtail their energy ties with Damascus.
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Speaking at a news conference with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, Clinton stopped short of explicitly calling for Assad's departure.
"We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and 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 told reporters after meeting Store.
"President Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead and it is clear that Syria would be better off without him," she added, echoing previous comments by the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, Syrian soldiers opened fire Friday on tens of thousands of protesters who flooded the streets shouting for the ouster - and even the execution - of President Assad as his embattled regime tries to crush a 5-month-old uprising despite broad international condemnation.
At least 14 protesters were killed across the country: Five outside the capital, Damascus; one in Homs and two in Hama; Four in the major northern city Aleppo; one in Deir el-Zour; and one in eastern Idlib province, according to multiple activist groups. Military raids earlier in the day killed at least two people.
State-run news agency SANA said two policemen were killed in the Damascus suburb of Douma when they came under fire.
In Homs and Idlib, where tens of thousands turned out, protesters shouted: "The people want the execution of the president!" The chant was the latest sign of how much the protest movement has grown since it erupted in March, seeking minor reforms and democratic change.
Reuers and AP contributed to this report
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