As the death toll mounts in Syria amidst an increasingly brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters, the call for imposing sanctions on the country are rising in the west.
Following reports that the U.S. may seek to impose sanctions on Damascus, France and Italy jointly urged the European Union and United Nations to pressure Bashar al-Assad’s regime to end its onslaught against demonstrators. In the absence of such concessions by Assad, European nations may also put in sanctions against Syria.
We issue a strong call on the authorities in Damascus to end the violent repression, said French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a joint statement.
However, the French and Italian leaders added they would not consider intervening in Syria without the support of a UN resolution.
Similarly, Britain said it is working to deliver a strong signal to Assad.
The United Kingdom is working intensively with our international partners to persuade the Syrian authorities to stop the violence and respect basic and universal human rights to freedoms of expression and assembly, said Foreign Secretary William Hague.
We must see acts of genuine reform not repression.
The UK and other major European nations are drafting a statement to condemn the violence of the Assad regime. A request has also been filed with the UN Security Council to convene and begin proceedings in the International Criminal Court against top Syrian officials.
“The [EU] member states will come together in the days, or hours, to come to talk about possible action for Syria,' EU spokeswoman Catherine Ray said, speaking on behalf of chief foreign policy official, Catherine Ashton.
Human rights groups are also demanding action against Syria.
It is no longer enough to condemn the violence, said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. Faced with the Syrian authorities' 'shoot to kill' strategy, the international community needs to impose sanctions on those ordering the shooting of protesters.
Meanwhile, more than 400 people are believed to have died in Syrian unrest over the past five weeks. That body count escalated over the weekend as state security officers violently clamped down on dissent after the Damascus government lifted its 48-year-old policy of emergency rule last week.