President Barack Obama said Friday he wants “every tool available” to stop the “slaughter” of civilians in Syria, as he backed an international meeting on the crisis.
Obama said he was “encouraged by the international unity” displayed at a meeting on Syria in Tunisia, with more than 60 foreign ministers gathering to bolster pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has launched a deadly crackdown and is currently besieging the opposition stronghold in Homs.
“We’re going to continue to keep the pressure up and look for every tool available to prevent the slaughter of innocents in Syria,” Obama told reporters at the White House, according to AFP.
“It’s important that we’re not bystanders during these extraordinary events,” he added.
Obama said that the international community must band together in pressuring Assad to step down.
“All of us seeing the terrible pictures coming out of Syria and Homs recently recognize it is absolutely imperative for the international community to rally in sending a clear message to President Assad that it is time for a transition,” Obama told reporters, as rescue workers began evacuating wounded civilians from the besieged Syrian city of Homs, according to Reuters.
“It is prime time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government,” he said after a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark.
Earlier Friday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, attending the first meeting of the “Friends of the Syrian People” in Tunisia, warned that Assad would pay a “heavy cost” for ignoring the will of the international community after almost a year of brutal crackdowns on protesters.
The group called for Syria’s government to “immediately cease all violence” to allow humanitarian access and “committed to take steps to apply and enforce restrictions and sanctions on the regime.”
More than 7,600 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad's rule erupted last March, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.