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Seize the sanctions moment in Syria

President Assad's continued violent repression of protesters, including shelling of the port city Latakia, makes now the moment for the UN Security Council to impose harsh sanctions on Syria.

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When the United Nations Security Council meets on Thursday to discuss Syria, it should seize the moment to impose multiple sanctions on the Assad regime and its network of support. Such measures would be consistent with past council sanctions aimed to degrade a regime’s ability to kill innocent civilians.

Strong coercive action is now warranted in light of the indiscriminate shelling of citizens in the port city of Latakia by naval gunships that began Saturday. Repression of predominantly nonviolent protestors continues even after various diplomatic missions and significant regional condemnations of the past week failed to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to end his assaults. Indeed, the Security Council’s Aug. 3 condemnation of the violence has not swayed Mr. Assad.

If the council fails to invoke sanctions, that task falls immediately to a broad coalition of UN members – including reluctant economic partner Turkey – led by the United States and the European Union. They must bring on harsh sanctions, including against Syrian oil and gas, that strengthen and expand significantly those they have already imposed.

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