Syrian security forces have continued their bloody assault on the Syrian people, despite the Assad regime's supposed agreement last week to an Arab League proposal to release all political prisoners, withdraw armored vehicles from Syrian streets, and end its brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters. The violence has been so vicious that the Arab League has called an emergency meeting for November 12 because of the continuation of brutality against civilians and the failure of the Syrian government to implement its commitments in the Arab plan to resolve the crisis.
U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said over the past few days alone, dozens of people have been killed in Syria:
"By the reports that our embassy in Damascus has, we've seen 71 civilians killed by regime forces between November 4th and November 6th. And the majority of those deaths appear to be in Homs, where we now have new reports that the regime is firing tanks into civilian houses."
The Syrian National Council, a coalition of Syrian opposition groups, says the siege by Assad's security forces in Homs is preventing food and medical supplies from reaching the city and stopping families from moving to safer areas. It has asked the international community for protection for civilians and to send observers to oversee the situation on the ground.
U.S. State Department spokesman Nuland said it is crucial that countries, particularly neighbors of Syria, ratchet up the political and economic pressure on the Assad regime so that the violence stops and the move to a democratic transition can take place:
"What we want to see are more countries joining us in closing off trade with the Syrian regime, that gives it the money to continue its onslaught, and particularly those countries who are still trading in weapons with Syria, which it is now turning on its own people."
In an address in Washington D.C., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that "leaders trying to hold back the future at the point of a gun should know their days are numbered. "Speaking of Syria, she said, "Assad may be able to delay change. But he cannot deny his people’s legitimate demands indefinitely. He must step down; and until he does, America and the international community will continue to increase pressure on him and his brutal regime."