United States President Barack Obama called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and discussed the raging violence in Syria, even as the White House went public urging Moscow not to support Bashar al-Assad as by doing so it would be considered on the wrong side of history.
Responding to a question at a news conference, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that Obama spoke to Putin over phone but did not provide much details.
"We are in regular conversation with the Russians, and we've made our positions clear... If you ally with Assad, you're going to end up on the wrong side of history, and that a continued relationship with Syria and the Syrian people I think depends upon making the right decisions now, because Syria's future will not include Assad," he said.
"Syrians need to be able to determine their own future in a democratic way, and it is in everyone's interests in the region and beyond to support a process that allows for that process to take place, that responds to the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people," he said.
Carney said the US does not believe that violence is the answer and it is precisely because of the ongoing campaign by President Assad against his own people that the situation is getting worse and worse.
"That is why it is so important for the international community to come together around a plan that produces the political transition that is essential if Syria is to have a brighter future," he said.
He said the blast in Damascus today makes clear that Assad is losing control that violence is increasing rather than decreasing and that all of US partners internationally need to come together and support a transition.
"One concern expressed by those who have resisted supporting a transition that would see Assad remove himself from power is that that outcome would cause the situation to spiral out of control or cause chaos or more violence. And our argument has always been that the situation as it exists with Assad in power is what will result in greater violence and greater chaos. And that is being borne out, unfortunately," he said.
The United States, he said, has repeatedly made it clear that the Syrian government has a responsibility to safeguard its stockpiles of chemical weapons, and that the international community will hold accountable any Syrian officials who fail to meet that obligation.
"We the United States are closely monitoring Syria's proliferation-sensitive materials and facilities, and we believe that Syria's chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control," he said.