Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel condemn Assad over violence, agree on more sanctions


US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned Syrian leader Bashar Al Assad Friday, for “indiscriminate” violence against civilians and agereed to extend sanctions against him.

The White House said the leaders spoke in separate telephone calls and warned of new measures against the Syrian leader over a brutal crackdown, which saw another 14 people killed Friday in Ramadan protests in Syria.

“The leaders condemned the Assad regime’s continued use of indiscriminate violence against the Syrian people,” a White House statement said.

“They welcomed the August 3 presidential statement by the UN Security Council condemning Syria's actions, but also agreed to consider additional steps to pressure the Assad regime and support the Syrian people.”

The telephone consultations come as Washington appears to be moving towards a direct call for Assad to leave, after saying this week his presence was now fomenting instability and leading the Middle East down a dangerous path.

The Obama administration had also said in recent days that it will press its allies in Europe and the Arab world to do more to pressure Assad.

Earlier, activists said that Syrian security forces shot dead at least 14 people as thousands of people rallied in the streets against President Assad on the first Friday of Ramadan to support the protest hub of Hama.

The Assad government has sought to crush the democracy movement with brutal force, killing more than 1,649 civilians and arresting thousands of dissenters, according to an updated list from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Group.