Assad - AP file photo - released 31.7.11
Syrian President Bashar Assad delivering a speech in Damascus, Syria, on June 20, 2011. Photo by AP
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French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Wednesday accused the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad of crimes against humanity, and called for the international community to unite against him.

"The Syrian regime has committed crimes against humanity," Juppe said during a Moscow meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

"The way the popular protests were suppressed is unacceptable ... there should be international sanctions," he said, according to Interfax news agency.

Juppe used diplomatic language to single out Russia for preventing the imposition of harsher sanctions against the Assad regime, because of the Kremlin's unwillingness to approve them in the United Nations Security Council.

Moscow has split with Western nations over the amount of pressure to place on Syria's government to end internal violence, as most NATO countries support immediate harsh sanctions.

Russia has said the Assad regime's promised reforms need time to take effect, and that the Syrian opposition should be pressured into a dialogue with the government.