- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
Syrian troops push to border, villagers flee
GUVECCI, Turkey — Syrian troops pushed to the Turkish border Thursday in their sweep against a 3-month-old pro-democracy movement, sending panicked refugees, including children, rushing across the frontier to safe havens in Turkey.
The European Union, meanwhile, announced it was slapping new sanctions on the Syrian regime because of the "gravity of the situation," in which the Syrian opposition says 1,400 people have been killed in a relentless government crackdown.
Syrian soldiers patrolled in military vehicles and on foot around the border village of Khirbet al-Jouz, according to Associated Press journalists who watched their movements from the Turkish side. The Local Coordinating Committees, which track the Syrian protest movement, said residents reported tanks had entered the village and snipers were spotted on rooftops.
Syria has banned foreign journalists and restricted local media, making it nearly impossible to independently confirm the accounts.
More than 11,000 Syrians are housed or seeking shelter in Turkish refugee camps, including 600 who crossed over on Thursday, the Turkish Red Crescent said. The refugees came in a convoy of about 20 minibuses and some rushed on foot across the border, to be met by Turkish soldiers and escorted to nearby camps.
Some refugees glanced behind them as they crossed into Turkey, as though fearful of being chased.
The deployment was the closest Syrian troops had come to Turkey since the military operation in the area began two weeks ago as Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces tried to extinguish any chance the opposition could gain a territorial base for a wider rebellion. The army's main thrust came against the town of Jisr al-Shughour, where armed anti-government resistance flared in early June.
The army's drive to the border could raise tensions with the Ankara government, which has grown impatient as Damascus tries to crush the uprising, in its 100th day Thursday.
Turkish troops moved their border positions several hundred feet (meters) back, apparently to avoid the possibility of confrontation with Syrian units, and raised a large red-and-white Turkish flag to mark their location. Patrols were intensified, and a military commander toured the area.
The foreign ministers of Turkey and Syria discussed the refugee situation on their border in a telephone conversation on Thursday, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported. No details were released.
In Brussels, the EU said it had expanded its anti-Syrian sanctions list, targeting seven more individuals and four companies, bringing to 34 the number of people and entities faced with an asset freeze and travel ban, including Assad.
The EU also has an embargo on sales of arms and equipment that can be used to suppress demonstrations.
The Syrian regime blames foreign conspirators and thugs for the unrest, but the protesters deny any foreign influence in their pro-democracy movement, during which they say authorities have detained 10,000 people.
On Wednesday, Syria's foreign minister, Walid Moallem, had lashed out at European governments for threatening the new round of sanctions and accused the West of trying to sow chaos and conflict in the Arab nation.
In the government's latest bid to blunt the widespread demonstrations, a movement inspired by pro-democracy upheavals elsewhere in the Mideast, Moallem also reiterated Assad's call for national dialogue and spoke of democracy within months — a bold assertion after more than four decades of iron-fisted rule by the Assad family and months of bloody reprisals.
A skeptical opposition rejected the overture while the Syrian military is occupying towns and shooting protesters.
• Kennedy reported from Beirut. Mehmet Guzel contributed to this report from Guvecci.
By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
- Mike Shanahan says he'd like to return; RG3 might be benched
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow