Cameron: Assad's got to go or Syria will plunge into civil war

assad_pictured_burn.jpg

A member of the Free Syrian Army holds a burning portrait of embattled President Bashar al-Assad in Al-Qsair on January 25, 2012.

Credit:

Alessio Romenzi

British Prime Minister David Cameron today issued a stern warning to embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying he has "a very clear message" for him, "which is that it's time for him to go," reported BBC News

More from GlobalPost: Damascus bombing: Syrian activists say it's too early to celebrate

The British leader made the comments during a visit to Afghanistan today, where he is set to hold what Britain's The Telegraph described as "historic" talks with Afghan and Pakistani leaders, an event that threatens to be overshadowed by an increasingly volatile situation in Syria. 

Clashes over the past several days have reached a level of violence not seen since the anti-government revolt first started there over a year ago, sparking a conflict that activists say has left a total of 17,000 people dead. 

"It is time for transition in the regime," Cameron said, according to The Telegraph. "If there isn't transition it's quite clear there's going to be civil war."

His remarks set the stage for today's UN Security Council vote Syria, where the US and Europe will continue to push for tougher sanctions in a move that has been resisted by Assad ally Russia and China.

The call by Cameron also comes a day after a bomb in Damascus killed top officials, including the country's defense minister and the president's brother-in-law (more about him here).

The bombing, described by state media as a "terrorist" attack, has reportedly been claimed by the rebels, according to Reuters. It is not known what caused the explosion. 

Syrian rebels on Wednesday vowed this is the "beginning of the end" of Assad's grip on power.