Months of unrest led to US call for Assad to resign
Created by webnews on Aug 19, 2011
Last updated: 09/01/11 at 06:55 AM
Tags: syria bashar al-assad unrest middle east
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Attorney General Adnan Bakkour in the central Syrian city of Hama said he was stepping down because security forces killed 72 prisoners in the city at the end of July and more than 400 others during a siege in August.
The United States imposed sanctions on Syria’s Foreign Minister and two other senior officials in connection with the Damascus government’s five-month crackdown on protesters. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem was targeted for being a leading defender of the violent campaign.
Opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad formed a "national council". They said it would coordinate efforts to oust the embattled leader.
Activists meeting in Turkey announced the group's formation, but they provided few details on the group's make-up.
The United States called for Assad's resignation. U.S. President Barack Obama called for the Syrian president to step aside and announced new sanctions on Syria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the transition to democracy in Syria has begun and called on Assad to "get out of the way."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke by telephone with President Assad, saying he was alarmed at reports of excessive use of force by the government and widespread human rights violations. Ban also called for an independent investigation of the violence.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Syria. Arab League Secretary General Nabil al Arabi urged Syria to "stop all acts of violence." Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with President Assad in Syria to call for an end to the violence.
A Human Rights Watch official said that some 17,000 people have been detained since March and detention centers are extremely overcrowded. He said his group has documented torture and brutal beatings.
Syrian oppositionmembers boycotted talks with the government to protest the crackdown on demonstrators.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier visited the city of Hama to show support for thousands of protesters there.
The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Syrian security forces in connection with the lethal crackdown on protesters. It accused agents of Syria's political security unit of opening fire and killing demonstrators in incidents in March and April.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed the uprising on "saboteurs" outside the country. He pledged to hold parliamentary elections, work to create new political parties, and amend the constitution. But he said he would not implement change amid chaos.
European foreign ministers announced sanctions against President Assad and nine members of his government.
The U.S. imposed new sanctions on Syria, targeting its intelligence agency and two relatives of the president. U.S. officials warned the penalties could be expanded to include President Assad.
The Syrian government approved an end to emergency laws that ban public demonstrations and restrict the media. President Assad ratified the decision two days later. But the government threatens harsh reprisals if unrest continues.
President Assad announced a new 31-member government. He ordered the release of detainees arrested in the wave of protests, except those convicted of "criminal acts."
The Syrian government resigned, but President Bashar al-Assad remained in power. Rallies in support of the president took place in several cities, including the capital, Damascus.
The Syrian government announced a series of reforms, including the first suggestion that emergency laws, in place since 1963, might be lifted. Proposed reforms included measures to raise salaries for public employees and fight unemployment.
Syrian security forces in Damascus broke up an opposition protest calling for the release of political prisoners. Some demonstrators are detained.