U.S. Ambassador to Syria: Assad ‘Should Step Aside’

Feb 10, 2012 6:18pm

In one of his first interviews since leaving Syria after operations at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus were suspended because of the escalating violence, U.S. Ambassador to Syria  Robert Ford  said the Syrian government had not delivered on any of its promises of reform.

“I’m hearing a lot about promises, but I’m not seeing any change on the ground. And change on the ground could start with stopping the attacks on civilian populations,” Ford told ABC News’ global affairs anchor Christiane Amanpour. “Stop arresting, stop shooting, peaceful protesters.  That would be a good way to start to show that you are sincere about some kind of a political dialogue.”

Ford said violence in the country had escalated dramatically over the past 11 months.

“It’s gotten much, much worse. And if the government does not stop its effort to put down a widespread protest movement by force, if it doesn’t stop trying to solve this by force the country will go off a cliff,” he said.

According to Ford, the U.S. does not want to send American military forces to Syria and is working to increase economic pressure on the country in hopes of getting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to step down.

“He has lost his legitimacy, and therefore he should step aside … so that a peaceful political transition can go forward,” Ford said.

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