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Obama says Assad using ‘torture, corruption and terror’ against protesters. By Mustapha Ajbaili

Published:

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad is using “torture, corruption and terror” to silence pro-democracy demonstrators, US President Barack Obama said on Sunday, vowing to continue to increase pressure on the Syrian regime.

President Obama said he was “appalled” by President Assad’s crackdown on Sunday which activists say killed nearly 140 civilians.

He saluted the Syrian demonstrators as “courageous” and said Syria “will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward.”

“The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime,” President Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

“Syria will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward. In the days ahead, the United States will continue to increase our pressure on the Syrian regime, and work with others around the world to isolate the Assad government and stand with the Syrian people.”

The United States has repeatedly said that President Assad has lost legitimacy while stopping short of explicitly seeking to oust him. The United States and its allies are already busy with a military campaign against Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi along with commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Once again, President Assad has shown that he is completely incapable and unwilling to respond to the legitimate grievances of the Syrian people. His use of torture, corruption and terror puts him on the wrong side of history and his people,” President Obama said.

“Through his own actions, Bashar Al Assad is ensuring that he and his regime will be left in the past, and that the courageous Syrian people who have demonstrated in the streets will determine its future. Syria will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward,” President Obama said.

Syrian human rights activists have said President Assad’s security forces killed at least 136 civilians and wounded hundreds in major tank assaults on Hama and other cities that began at dawn on Sunday to crush pro-democracy demonstrations.

Several observers wondered if Mr. Assad was truly in charge of the situation. Some suggested that his brother, Maher, may be leading the assault against pro-democracy protesters. Maher is known for his personal brutality and intolerance of dissent.

(Mustapha Ajbaili, Managing Editor of Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: Mustapha.ajbaili@mbc.net)