The United States is preparing to insist publicly that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down from power, according to anonymous U.S. officials, as violence continues to thwart the pro-democracy movement there.

Assad has been growing ever less mindful of international calls to stop the deadly government crackdown on protesters that has led to the deaths of more than 2,000 people since March, according to human rights groups.

The Obama administration, considering the ineffectiveness of an earlier call on Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi to step down, has yet to decide how and when to make the announcement, but U.S. officials said it could come as early as Thursday or as late as next week. –BF


Steadily escalating US rhetoric against Assad, including a warning that he is now a source of regional instability, has fueled expectations that the Obama administration will soon formally call for him to go.

But the White House Wednesday stuck with a rhetorical formulation towards Syria adopted last week, saying the country would be a “better place” without Assad.

When they held their first meeting with Clinton on August 2, Syrian dissidents urged Obama to call on Assad to quit power and pressed for UN sanctions over the regime’s crackdown on protests.

One of the dissidents said such a high-profile US call for Assad to step down would bring more protesters into Syria’s streets.

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