Clashes near Syria airport kill 150

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Syria’s conflict has posed a dilemma for the international community. While the U.S. and many Arab and European countries have called on Assad to leave power, Russia, China and Iran continue to back the regime. Russia, which has been Syria’s primary arms provider for decades, has said it will continue to fulfill its arms contracts.

On Friday, the Customs Investigation Service in Finland said it had intercepted a shipment of spare parts for tanks en route to Syria from Russia.

The service’s head, Petri Lounatmaa, said officers confiscated a shipping container on Jan. 8 because it did not have a transit license and contained 9.6 tons of tank parts. The service suspects the shipment violated a European Union ban on weapons exports to Syria and is investigating with other international authorities.

International diplomacy has failed to stop the violence and calls for the sides to negotiate a political solution have gone nowhere.

The opposition’s main umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, said in a statement Friday it would not allow Assad or members of his security services to participate in talks to end the crisis.

It did not rule out, however, dialogue with some members of his ruling Baath party, welcoming talks with “honorable people” from all parts of society who “have not been embroiled in the crimes against the Syrian people.”

Still, neither side has proposed a concrete plan for talks.

In Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu proposed that the U.N. Security Council set up humanitarian zones that would be under joint government-opposition control to facilitate the delivery of aid to Syrian civilians.

He did not elaborate on the proposal, which he mentioned in an address to Turkish and E.U. legislators, and criticized world powers for failing to agree on how to stop Syria’s war.

“If the U.N. Security Council won’t act with the death toll in Syria reaching 70,000 and with millions being left hungry and begging for bread in winter conditions, then when will it act?” he asked.

Associated Press writers John Heilprin in Geneva and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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