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Obama Condemns Syrian Attack

A view of houses that residents said were damaged during a military crackdown on protesters against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is seen in Rasten near Homs, February 3, 2012.
A view of houses that residents said were damaged during a military crackdown on protesters against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is seen in Rasten near Homs, February 3, 2012.
Kent Klein

President Barack Obama is harshly criticizing the Syrian government for an attack that killed more than 200 people in the city of Homs. The president’s sharply-worded statement released Saturday aims to reassure the Syrian people.

In some of his strongest language yet, President Obama condemns what he calls “the Syrian government’s unspeakable assault against the people of Homs.”

The written statement uses words like “murdered” and “disdain for human life and dignity.”  Mr. Obama asserts that “any government that brutalizes and massacres its people does not deserve to govern.”  

He again calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, saying he “has no right to lead Syria, and has lost all legitimacy with his people and the international community.”

The president also tells the people of Syria, “We are with you.”

Syrian forces bombarded neighborhoods in Homs with mortars and artillery Saturday.  It appeared to be the bloodiest incident in the eleven-month uprising against the Assad government.

The government in Damascus has denied the assault.  It said the reports were part of a campaign by armed groups to influence the outcome of a United Nations Security Council vote on a draft resolution backing an Arab call for Mr. Assad to leave.

Russia and China later vetoed the resolution.

President Obama's statement, issued before the vote, urged the Security Council to approve the resolution.  His statement said the Council should stand against what he called the Assad government’s “relentless brutality,” and to demonstrate that it is a credible advocate for universal rights.

Meanwhile, Tunisia has expelled Syria’s ambassador, and says it no longer recognizes the Assad government.

And crowds stormed Syrian embassies in Berlin, London, Athens, Cairo and Kuwait City, clashing with guards and police.

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