Throughout Syria's five-month-old uprising, the Obama administration has carefully avoided calling--as it has with Libya's Muammar Qaddafi--for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, instead urging Assad to renounce violence and implement reforms to restore his "credibility." That may all change this week, however, as the White House is planning on demanding Assad's departure and slapping the regime with new sanctions, according to an AP report this afternoon. While the move may seem obvious in the fact of the Syrian regime's escalating crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators, the AP writes, it's significant because it signals that the U.S. has given up on engaging Syria, which it long pursued "despite a history of tense relations stemming from Syria's close ties to Iran, and the Assad dynasty's support for Shiite militants who have fought Israel and U.S.-backed governments in Lebanon."
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