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US, UN poised for diplomatic assault on Syria's Assad

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Bassem Tellawi/AP

(Read caption) In this photo taken on a government-organized tour, a Syrian man shouts in support of President Bashar Assad, seen on the flag, as residents cheer Syrian soldiers leaving the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 16. State-run news agency SANA said army units began withdrawing from Deir el-Zour Tuesday after ridding the city of "armed terrorist gangs" in an operation that lasted several days.

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Syria's government is set to come under diplomatic assault today as the United Nations and United States prepare to take decisive actions against the regime. The two-pronged attack comes on the heels of comments from Turkey that make clear its overtures to its neighbor are over.

Associated Press sources say that today the White House will call on Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president who has presided over a brutal five-month crackdown on protesters in his country, to leave office.

The US previously said that President Assad has lost his legitimacy as a leader. The call for him to leave office would have come sooner, but Turkey, Syria's neighbor, asked for time to try to persuade Assad to reform and the US wanted to act with a global consensus against the autocrat, the AP reports.

"It is not going to be any news if the United States says Assad needs to go," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday. "OK, fine, what's next? If other people say it, if Turkey says it, if [Saudi] King Abdullah says it, there is no way the Assad regime can ignore it."

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