BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian activists say President Bashar Assad's regime pounded Aleppo with warplanes and artillery shelling Saturday as ground forces seeking to regain momentum in the country's largest city advanced on three neighborhoods.
An activist group called the Local Coordination Committees says 148 people were killed nationwide, including 77 in Aleppo. Aleppo had been relatively quiet for most of the 18-month-old revolt, but it has emerged as the main battleground in Syria's civil war, with both sides largely locked in a stalemate despite the superior firepower of Assad's regime.
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- The EU's foreign policy chief says more sanctions against Syria and Iran are being weighed.
Catherine Ashton said Saturday that a top priority for the EU is to offer its full backing to the new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is set to begin mediation efforts to end the violence between Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and opposition groups seeking to topple his rule.
Speaking to reporters at the end of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Cyprus, she urged Syrian opposition groups to form a united front against the Assad regime in order to make all Syrians feel secure about their future.
On Iran, Ashton said that she will "do everything I can" to ensure Iran complies with its obligations regarding its nuclear program.
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AP) -- Russia has soundly rejected U.S. calls for increased pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR' AH'-sahd) to relinquish power.
While in Russia's Far East on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to prod Moscow into supporting U.N. action to end the crisis in Syria. She also expressed hope that Congress would repeal Cold War-era trade restrictions on Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (SEHR'-gay LAHV'-rahf) met with Clinton on the sidelines of a meeting of Pacific Rim leaders.
After that meeting, Lavrov told reporters that Moscow is opposed to U.S.-backed penalties against the Assad government, in addition to new ones against Iran over its nuclear program, because they harm Russian commercial interests.
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