Germany condemns 'Syria's war against its own people'
Germany Monday condemned what it called a war by the Syrian government against its own people, after calling for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the latest deadly crackdown.
Foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer renewed Berlin's call for a robust response from the council and new European Union sanctions against Damascus after activists said security forces killed nearly 140 people Sunday.
"We can understand those who have said that this can be considered a war against its (Syria's) own people," Schaefer told a regular government news briefing.
"This clearly marks a new level for Assad's machinery of repression against his own people," he added, referring to President Bashar al-Assad.
Schaefer renewed Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle's call made Sunday for "further EU sanctions against Syria" which he said "should be implemented soon".
When asked whether Berlin was calling for Assad to step down, he said: "It is difficult to imagine that the Syrian regime under the leadership of President Assad can continue to work without some kind of change."
But he and a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, Christoph Steegmans, stopped short of calling for Assad's resignation.
Steegmans said that Merkel condemned the brutal repression of the demonstrations "in the strongest terms" and called on Assad to stop the violence.
"The chancellor calls for a dialogue with peaceful demonstrators and opposition groups to finally begin," he said.
A Security Council meeting could be held later Monday, but such a move could reopen bitter divisions within the council, which has not yet been able to agree even on a statement on Assad's crackdown against opponents.
Schaefer noted the reluctance of permanent council members Russia and China as well as non-permanent members India, South Africa and Brazil to condemn Syria's actions but said Germany was hopeful they would come around.
India will take over from Germany Monday as president of the council.
Russia earlier urged Syria to immediately stop the use of force and repression against civilian protesters, in its strongest criticism yet of the crackdown.
© 2011 AFP