Clinton calls on Syrian people to turn against Assad’s ‘campaign of violence’

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday called on Syrian supporters of leader Bashir al-Assad to turn against his regime.

“The longer you support the regime’s campaign of violence against your brothers and sisters, the more it will stain your honor,” said Clinton at a news conference in Morocco, reported The Associated Press.

“If you refuse, however, to prop up the regime or take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen and women will hail you as heroes,” she added.

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Syria’s government held a referendum Sunday on a new draft constitution that it says reforms the nation’s political system. Western nations have dismissed the vote and called for Assad to step down.

The Syrian strongman has used force to quell an uprising in the country that threatens his rule. As violence in the nation has grown, the United States and allies have increased pressure on Assad to relinquish power.

"Assad would have the Syrian people believe that it is only terrorists and extremists standing against the regime. But that is wrong," said Clinton. "So many Syrians are suffering under this relentless shelling. All Syrians should be working together to seek a better future."

On Friday, the United States joined 70 other countries at the “Friends of Syria” meeting in calling for the United Nations to prepare a peacekeeping force to send to Syria if Assad agrees to a cease-fire.

The “Friends of Syria” group consists of opposition forces and nations supporting their efforts to remove Assad. Western nations at the summit promised more aid to rebel groups, but stopped well short of providing military assistance or arms. They warned, though, that Assad risked further consequences if he did not halt the violence and allow aid to reach civilians.

The Obama administration is facing pressure from many lawmakers to intensify efforts to back the anti-Assad forces.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) issued a joint statement Friday calling for more to be done to aid the opposition.

“Speeches and meetings by themselves will do nothing to stop the unacceptable slaughter in Syria, which is growing worse by the day,” the senators said.

The secretary of State also participated in the groundbreaking for a new U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco on Sunday. Clinton was joined by the Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad Eddine Othmani and the Mayor of Rabat Fathallah Oualalou, according to a State Department statement.