UN help sought on deadly Syrian crackdown

Britain, France, Germany and Portugal say they’ll seek a UN Security Council resolution ordering sanctions against Syria over its deadly crackdown on protests.

The measures proposed could include an assets freeze and travel ban against Syrian individuals as well an arms embargo, Britain’s deputy UN ambassador Philip Parham told reporters after a council meeting on the Syria crisis.

The United States would strongly support the sanctions effort, deputy US ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said.

Parham said work on the resolution would be carried out in coming days and did not set a timetable for submitting it to other members of the 15-nation body.

UN officials say at least 2,000 civilians have been killed in a crackdown on protests since mid-March.

While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has promised reforms, Parham said “we cannot let ourselves be strung along by talk of better times ahead.”

Any resolution is likely to face strong opposition however from Russia and China, which, as permanent members of the council, can veto any measure.

Brazil, India and South Africa have also opposed tough measures against Syria.

Earlier today US President Barack Obama demanded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down.

However he has “no plans” to recall US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, the White House said .

“We need to have him there,” US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told AFP, saying the US leader “has no plans to recall Ambassador Ford.”

Vietor’s comments came after Obama demanded that Assad “step aside” and imposed tough economic sanctions to “deepen the financial isolation” of the government in Damascus but ruled out US intervention.

Obama came into office pushing for more robust engagement with Syria over stiff objections from Republicans, who worked to block Ford’s confirmation and have sharply criticized the president for reaching out to Damascus.

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