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U.S., allies call for Assad to resign

WASHINGTON -- Executing a global squeeze play, the United States and its European allies demanded an end on Thursday to four decades of brutal family dictatorship in Syria and underscored the tough talk with new sanctions on President Bashar Assad's government.

The unified stance isolates Assad further as he presses a military campaign against major demonstrations. But the diplomacy left many questions unanswered, including how the demand for Assad's ouster can be backed up in the absence of any appetite for military intervention and who might take his place.

The messages coincided with a UN report recommending that Syria be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible crimes against humanity, including summary executions, torturing prisoners and targeting children in the crackdown on demonstrations.

In yesterday's statements, President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Canada and the European Union called on Assad to resign, saying his repression of demonstrations inspired by this spring's Arab uprisings made him unfit to lead.

Obama also signed an executive order that immediately bans the import into the United States of any Syrian petroleum or petroleum products. His order denies Syria access to the U.S. financial system and prohibits any U.S. citizen from engaging in transactions with Syria, investing in the country or exporting services there. -- AP

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