Britain Warns Syria of Further Measures in Face of Ongoing Violence

Italian, French Presidents join U.K. Foreign Secretary in urging Syria to end 'repression.'

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Britain said Tuesday it is working with its international partners on possible further measures against Syria and called on President Bashar Assad to end attacks on anti-government protesters.

"The United Kingdom is working intensively with our international partners to persuade the Syrian authorities to stop the violence and respect basic and universal human rights to freedoms of expression and assembly," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

In this mobile phone image acquired by the AP, Syrian anti-government protesters hold a bloodied flag during a funeral procession for slain activists in Izraa, Syria, Saturday, April 23, 2011.Credit: AP

"This includes working with our partners on the United Nations Security Council to send a strong signal to the Syrian authorities that the eyes of the international community are on Syria, and with our partners in the European Union and the region on possible further measures."

Hague's comments came as the United States announced it was considering sanctions against senior Syrian officials in a bid to ratchet up pressure for an end to violent crackdowns.

The measures, which could include a freeze on assets and a ban on American business dealings, would likely come in the form of an executive order signed by U.S. President Barack Obama, the official said.

But a final decision has yet to be made on the exact timing of such a move, and there was no immediate word whether Assad might be among those targeted for sanctions, as human rights groups have urged.

Sanctions would mark an escalation of the U.S. response to Assad's efforts to crush a month-long uprising against his autocratic 11-year rule.

On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy also appealed to authorities in Syria to "show moderation," in dealing with anti-government unrest.

"We are very worried (for the situation in Syria)," Berlusconi said during a joint news conference with Sarkozy in Rome. "We strongly appeal to the authorities in Damascus to halt the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations by civilians," the Italian premier added.

Syrian authorities reportedly arrested hundreds of protesters and dissidents Tuesday as the military surrounded several cities and villages, pro-democracy activists said.

Tuesday's move by the military came a day after at least 39 people were killed and 70 wounded in the restive southern city of Daraa after the army fired on demonstrators.



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