Syrian Update June 3

By: AP
By: AP
US reaches out to Syria

FILE--In this April 30, 2012 file photo, Syrian security forces, background, hold their machine guns and surround anti-Syrian regime mourners, foreground, during the funeral procession of the activist Nour al-Zahraa, 23, who was shot by the Syrian security forces on Sunday, in Kfar Suseh area, in Damascus, Syria. The swaggering gunmen operate as hired muscle for the Syrian regime, clutching rifles and daggers as they sweep through towns and villages, seeking vengeance on enemies of Bashar Assad. Recruited from the ruling elite's Alawite sect, the militiamen known as "shabiha" carry out some of the most ghastly attacks of Syria's violent conflict, allowing the regime to deny any direct responsibility. Witnesses have blamed shabiha for the Houla massacre in late May. (AP Photo, File)

BEIRUT (AP) -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has made an overture to Russia in an attempt to get Syria's most important ally on board with an effort to stop the deadly violence in that country. A senior State Department official says Clinton called Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (SEHR'-gay LAHV'-rahf) to try to persuade a reluctant Russia to engage diplomatically in coming up with a solution to end the bloodshed.
The official, who provided details of the private discussion on condition of anonymity, said they both agreed on the need to work together.
Russia has refused to support any move that could lead to foreign intervention in Syria, Moscow's last significant ally in the Middle East. Russia, along with China, has twice used its veto power to shield Syria from U.N. sanctions.

BEIRUT (AP) -- The Syrian violence has spilled over into neighboring Lebanon, where a gun battle has killed seven and wounded 22, according to security officials.
Officials say pro- and anti-Syrian groups clashed in Northern Lebanon starting last night and the fighting intensified today.
Activists also report fresh shelling in central Syria, where a massacre last week left more than 100 dead and enraged the international community.
The fighting in Lebanon has raised fears of an escalation in sectarian tensions there.
Lebanon and Syria share a complex web of political and sectarian ties and rivalries, which are easily enflamed. Clashes in Tripoli last month killed at least eight people.

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The U.N.'s top human rights official says there should be no amnesty for crimes committed in Syria, even if potential prosecution might motivate members of the regime to cling to power at all costs.
Asked Saturday by The Associated Press if she would oppose an agreement for Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power in exchange for safe haven, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said international leaders may be drawn to "politically expedient solutions which may involve amnesty or undertakings not to prosecute."
But she insisted there cannot be amnesty for very serious crimes.
Lawyers for former Liberian President Charles Taylor, sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in prison, had argued that giving him a long sentence would send the wrong message to Assad.

SINGAPORE (AP) -- France says it will only participate in military action in Syria under a United Nations mandate.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told an Asian security summit Sunday that the international community should increase sanctions and pressure in an effort to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. An anti-government uprising has raged for more than a year in Syria.
U.S. Senator John McCain on Saturday urged the Obama Administration to arm Syrian rebels and create safe zones. Russia is an ally of Assad and has squashed attempts at U.N. action in Syria.
Le Drian said that a meeting Friday between French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin "doesn't make it possible to think the veto will be lifted tomorrow morning."


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