"I do believe that President Assad missed an opportunity to reform his government, chose the path of repression, and has continued to engage in repressive tactics so that his credibility, his capacity to regain legitimacy inside Syria, I think is deeply eroded," Obama said.
At a joint news conference with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, Obama said he has expressed his outrage in how the Syrian regime has been operating. The issue came up for discussions during the meeting between the two.
Syrians were voting today in municipal elections held amid a general strike called by the opposition, as security forces killed at least seven people.
"We believe that international pressure, the approach we've taken along with partners around the world, to impose tough sanctions and to call on Assad to step down, a position that is increasingly mirrored by the Arab League states, is the right position to take," Obama said.
"Even if there are tactical disagreements between Iraq and the US at this point in how to deal with Syria, I have absolutely no doubt that these decisions are being made based on what Prime Minister Maliki believes is best for Iraq, not based on considerations of what Iran would like to see," Obama said.