WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday urged the U.N. Security Council to take a stand against what he called the "relentless brutality" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
After activists reported that more than 200 people were killed in shelling by government troops in Homs, Obama said the attack was an "unspeakable assault" and urged Assad to step down from power.
"Yesterday the Syrian government murdered hundreds of Syrian citizens, including women and children, in Homs through shelling and other indiscriminate violence, and Syrian forces continue to prevent hundreds of injured civilians from seeking medical help," Obama said in a written statement.
"Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now. He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately," he said.
The Homs was the bloodiest day of an 11-month uprising and it gave new urgency to a push by the Arab League, the United States and a U.N. resolution calling for Assad to cede power.
But Russia has resisted the resolution, saying the Security Council must avoid taking sides in a civil war.
"The council now has an opportunity to stand against the Assad regime's relentless brutality and to demonstrate that it is a credible advocate for the universal rights that are written into the U.N. Charter," Obama said.