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Canadian PM Harper calls on Syria's president Assad to resign

(Xinhua)

08:49, August 19, 2011

OTTAWA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign following U.S. President Barack Obama and European leaders demanded Assad to end a series of military attacks against Syrians.

"Canada reiterates its strong condemnation of the ongoing violent military assault by the Assad regime against the Syrian people. This campaign of terror must stop," Harper said in a statement. "The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power."

Harper said that Canada stands with the Syrian people in their efforts to secure freedom and democracy, and looks forward to a new Syria that respects the rights of all of its people and lives in peace with its neighbors.

Canada, which established diplomatic relations with Syria in 1965, has suspended bilateral cooperation initiatives with Syria and imposed many sanctions that target members of the current Syrian government and those who provide it with support following the outbreak of protests demanding political change in March 2011.

Canada has stated that the people of Syria have the right to determine their own future and must be allowed to do so, and is deeply concerned at the ongoing violence in Syria and the Syrian Government's excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.

Britain, France and Germany also issued a statement calling for Assad to step down.

International pressure against Assad is mounting after his reportedly continued attempts to crush a six-month uprising. Nearly 2,000 people are believed to have been killed in the crackdown.

The Syrian president has told the United Nations that all military operations against protesters have come to a halt, a UN spokesman said earlier Thursday. However, activists are claiming nine more people have been killed in the central city of Homs.

Members of a high-level UN human rights team are waiting for Assad to grant them permission to enter Syria. The team wants to investigate its suspicions that crimes against humanity have been committed.

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