- Obama to Central American leaders: I need help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
EU threatens new sanctions on Syria
Question of the Day
BEIRUT — The European Union will impose harsher sanctions on Syria, a senior EU official said Wednesday, as Russia tried to broker talks between the vice president and the opposition to calm violence. Activists reported at least 50 killed in military assaults targeting government opponents.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who held emergency talks in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday, is trying to end Syria’s 11-month-old bloody uprising, which has left more than 5,400 dead, according to the U.N. Moscow launched the initiative on Tuesday, just days after it infuriated the U.S. by blocking a Western- and Arab-backed U.N. Security Council resolution supporting calls for Assad to hand over some powers to his vice president.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said outside forces should let Syrians settle their conflict “independently.”
“We should not act like a bull in a china shop,” Putin was quoted by the Itar Tass news agency as saying. “We have to give people a chance to make decisions about their destiny independently, to help, to give advice, to put limits somewhere so that the opposing sides would not have a chance to use arms, but not to interfere.
Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that Assad has “delegated the responsibility of holding such a dialogue to Vice President (Farouk) al-Sharaa.” He blamed both Assad’s regime and opposition forces for instigating the violence that has killed thousands of people since March.
“On both sides, there are people that aim at an armed confrontation, not a dialogue,” Lavrov said.
Military defectors are playing a bigger role in Syria’s Arab-Spring inspired uprising, turning it into a more militarized conflict and hurtling the country ever more quickly toward a civil war.
The regime’s crackdown on dissent has left it almost completely isolated internationally and facing growing sanctions. The U.S. closed its embassy in Damascus on Monday and five European countries and six Arab Gulf nations have pulled their ambassadors out of Damascus over the past two days. Germany, whose envoy left Syria this month, said he would not be replaced.
Nevertheless, Assad was bolstered by Tuesday’s visit from Lavrov and Russia’s intelligence chief, Mikhail Fradkov. During the talks, the Russians pushed for a solution that would include reforms by the regime as well as the dialogue with the opposition.
Assad said Syria was determined to hold a national dialogue with the opposition and independent figures, and that his government was “ready to cooperate with any effort that boosts stability in Syria,” according to state news agency SANA.
The Syrian opposition rejects any talks with the regime and says they accept nothing less than Assad’s departure.
In Brussels, a senior EU official said the bloc will soon impose harsher sanctions against Syria as it seeks to weaken Assad’s regime. The official said the new measures may include bans on the import of Syrian phosphates, on commercial flights between Syria and Europe, and on financial transactions with the country’s central bank.
As Russia pressed its efforts to start a dialogue, Syrian troops bombed residential neighborhoods in the central city of Homs, the northern province of Idlib, southern region of Daraa and the mountain town of Zabadani, in what activists say is the regime’s final push to retake areas controlled by the rebels.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Russia shipping sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine separatists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- Let it roll: D.C. Council hits Las Vegas on taxpayer's dime, leaves $14,000 tab
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq