Throughout Syria's five-month-old uprising, the Obama administration has carefully avoided calling--as it has with Libya's Muammar Qaddafi--for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, instead urging Assad to renounce violence and implement reforms to restore his "credibility." That may all change this week, however, as the White House is planning on demanding Assad's departure and slapping the regime with new sanctions, according to an AP report this afternoon. While the move may seem obvious in the fact of the Syrian regime's escalating crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators, the AP writes, it's significant because it signals that the U.S. has given up on engaging Syria, which it long pursued "despite a history of tense relations stemming from Syria's close ties to Iran, and the Assad dynasty's support for Shiite militants who have fought Israel and U.S.-backed governments in Lebanon."

Despite a last-ditch effort by Turkey today to convince Assad to end his military offensive, the Syrian regime remains defiant. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency quoted Assad as telling Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that Damascus "will not relent in pursuing the terrorist groups in order to protect the stability of the country and the security of the citizens."