“The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power," Harper said in a statement, the Globe and Mail reports
. “I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately.”
Mr. Harper's call for the Syrian president's resignation came after U.S. President Barack Obama released his own statement similarly calling for the Syrian leader's job, stating Assad's calls for reform are empty words while the country's citizens are imprisoned, tortured and killed. The move was a co-ordinated initiative with the United Nations and the United States' allies in Europe and the Middle East, the Globe and Mail reported.
The European Union's prominent leaders quickly followed Mr. Obama's lead, condemning the regime's repression of peaceful protesters and perpetration of human rights violations. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel jointly criticized Assad's regime for ignoring the voices of the Syrian people and the country's continued misleading of the international community with empty promises.
Syrians have staged pro-democracy protests in recent weeks against the Assad regime, resulting in the government's use of deadly force to silence citizens. More than 2,000 have been killed amid the government crackdown, the Ottawa Citizen reports
The Citizen also reports that the U.S has placed sanctions on all Syrian assets, freezing all of the country's interests resting in U.S. jurisdictions. American companies and individuals have also been banned from investing in Syrian businesses and prohibited from trading in Syrian oil.
Canada has followed suit, imposing its own sanctions on members of the Syrian regime, while Mr. Harper added Canada looks forward to a Syria that respects the rights of its citizens and lives in peace with its neighbours, Wall Street Journal reports