French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad needs to step down from power after nine months of violence against dissidents and protesters.
Sarkzoy, in an address to French military staff, claimed there were “massacres committed” by Syria’s security forces since March, according to a transcript of his speech.
The Syrian regime, he said, “rightly arouses the disgust and revulsion of the Arab world” and said President al-Assad, who has ruled the country for the past 11 years, needs to step down from power “and let the people decide freely.”
The United Nations, in its most recent estimate, said more than 5,000 people have been killed since the unrest began.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he is “skeptical” of the current Arab League observer mission in Syria, which is led by a Sudanese military general. “The truth must really be established and the regime must not be allowed, in the end, to brainwash the observers on the ground,” Juppe said, according to a transcript.
The Local Coordination Committees activist group said that at least 10 people were killed in Syria and said the army is shelling the town of Saraqeb in northern Idlib province.