Briefly: Middle East

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Turkey sees police role in Kurdish fight

ISTANBUL — The Turkish military casts itself as a defender of the nation against internal threats as well as external ones, and describes soldiers who die in combat with Kurdish rebels as martyrs.

Now a government plan to deploy elite police squads in the fight could undercut the traditional role of the armed forces, even as civilian leaders move forcefully to reduce its political power.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a military meeting in Ankara, the capital, after the nation’s top four commanders quit last week to protest the arrests of retired and active-duty officers accused of plotting a coup.

In eastern Turkey, meanwhile, security forces combed a rural area where three soldiers were killed a day earlier by suspected Kurdish militants.


Hama siege tightens; Italy pulls ambassador

BEIRUT — Syrian troops tightened their siege of the city of Hama Tuesday, sending residents fleeing for their lives and drawing a fresh wave of international condemnation against a regime defying the growing calls to end its crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with U.S.-based Syrian democracy activists as the Obama administration weighed new sanctions on Syria.

Congressional calls also mounted for action against President Bashar Assad’s regime, as the death toll from two days of military assaults on civilians Sunday and Monday neared 100.

Italy recalled its ambassador to Syria “in the face of the horrible repression against the civil population” by the government, which launched a new push against protesters as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Monday.


Slain rebel chief’s son seeks speedy trials

BENGHAZI — The son of the Libyan rebel military chief assassinated last week accused “traitors” within the opposition of killing his father to create cracks in the rebel ranks and demanded an open investigation and speedy trial for the perpetrators.

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