Syria continued its brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, a day after state forces killed at least 80 civilians in the city of Hama. The use of tanks and live ammunition on civilians has further isolated Syria's regime, prompting new sanctions from the European Union.
"The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime," President Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "Syria will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward. In the days ahead, the US will continue to increase our pressure on the Syrian regime, and work with others around the world to isolate the Assad government and stand with the Syrian people," the statement said.
Syrian forces killed more than 140 across the country Sunday, including at least 80 in the Islamist center of Hama. The city was the scene of a famous massacre in 1982, where the regime suppressed an Islamist uprising by killing at least 10,000 people. Both sides seem to be preparing for more conflict during the month of Ramadan, with the size and voracity of Sunday's violence hardening resolve on both sides.
"It is time for the [United Nations] Security Council to take a clear stand on the need to end the violence," warned E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The E.U. added five additional names to a list of 30 Syrian government officials, being targeted by a visa band and assets freeze.
Turkey, one of Syria's strongest regional allies and a major trading partner, also condemned the attacks. "The incidents of Sunday simply horrified us. I am shaken by the use of heavy artillery and tanks against the people of Hama, right on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan," Turkish President Gül told the Anatolia news agency on Monday.