President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for UN Security Council sanctions on Syria, saying there was no excuse for inaction when people were being tortured and murdered by their government.
“For the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people,” Obama told the United Nations General Assembly.
Obama was criticized heavily by political opponents within the United States for responding too slowly to the crackdown on demonstrators by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
But he has now imposed sanctions on the Syrian leader, his family and his regime and last month called on him to leave power.
“As we meet here today, men, women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime,” Obama said.
“Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders.
“The question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?
“Already the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We have supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. Many of our allies have joined us in this effort,” Obama said.
America’s western allies have joined Washington in imposing sanctions against Syria, but Russia and China have opposed attempts to frame a sanctions regime in the Security Council and threatened to veto any such resolution.