White House spokesman Jay Carney
Source: Press TV
The United States has threatened the Syrian government with regime change and told President Bashar al-Assad he must decide whether he wants to be a promoter of progress in Syria or an obstacle.
“There needs to be actual action towards political dialogue so that this transition to a more democratic Syria can take place,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday, the Associated Press reported.
“And as we have said in the past, President Assad needs to either lead that transition or get out of the way,” he added and called on the head of state to act upon his promises of political reform.
The harsh rhetoric was used, even though the Syrian president promised to hold parliamentary elections in August and complete a reform package by September meant to bring an end to months of unrest in the country.
Scores of people, including security forces, have been killed since the beginning of the unprecedented unrest in mid-March.
The Syrian government blames armed gangs for the violence, saying that the turmoil has been orchestrated from outside the country.
Shortly before the US official's comments, Assad addressed the nation and announced that he is ready to “meet directly with protesters and have a comprehensive dialogue.”
“A national dialogue committee will be formed soon,” he said.
He also expressed regret that 'destructive elements' have been exploiting the movement seeking legitimate reforms in the country.
Syria's northern neighbor Turkey, which has recently toughened its stance vis-à-vis Damascus, responded to the speech, calling it not up to par. Turkish President Abdullah Gul advised Assad to transform Syria's governing structure into a multi-party system.
Thousands of Syrians have fled the tension to Hatay Province in southern Turkey, which is located on the border with Syria.
In early June, armed groups, whose weapons reportedly came from Turkey, killed 120 Syrian policemen and other members of the security forces in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour before burying them in mass graves.
During his speech, the Syrian president asserted that 'plotting' would only make the country stronger and hailed the nation's 'great vigilance.'
Assad also said that Syria has paid 'a high price' for its security and stability and expressed his condolences to the families of the 'martyrs' of the recent clashes.