Protesters shout slogans as they carry pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, his father Hafez Assad, second from left, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, center, and Syrian flags, during a demonstration to show their support for the Syrian President in front of the Russian Embassy, in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, June 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
President Barack Obama says the time has come for Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign for the sake of his brutally repressed people.
In a stinging written statement, Obama says Assad has overseen a vicious onslaught of his people as they protest for freedoms. He says the Syrian people should decide their country's future and Assad is standing in their way and must go.
Obama also says that Assad's calls for reform ring hollow while he is, in Obama's words, "imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering his own people."
This was Obama's first explicit call for Assad to step down. His administration also is slapping new sanctions on Syria.