EU mulls harsher sanctions on Syria

EU cân nhắc các biện pháp cấm vận khắc khe hơn

AP – The European Union will impose (áp đặt) harsher sanctions on Syria, a senior EU official said Wednesday, as Russia tried to broker talks (làm trung gian đàm phán) between the vice president and the opposition to calm violence. Activists (các nhà hoạt động) reported at least 50 killed in military assaults (tấn công quân sự) targeting government opponents (những người chống chính phủ).

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who held emergency talks (hội đàm khẩn cấp) in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday, is trying to end Syria’s 11-month-old bloody uprising (nổi dậy đẩm máu), which has left (để lại hậu quả là, làm cho) more than 5,400 dead, according to the U.N. Moscow launched the initiative (đưa ra sáng kiến) on Tuesday, just days after it infuriated (làm .. tức giận) the U.S. by blocking a Western- and Arab-backed (được các nước Ả Rập bảo trợ) U.N. Security Council (Hội đồng Bảo an) resolution supporting calls for Assad to hand over some powers (chuyển giao quyền lực) to his vice president.

Russia’s approach (cách tiếp cận, phương án) does not call for Assad to step down (từ bỏ chức vụ), the opposition’s chief demand (yêu cầu chủ yếu của phe đối lập), and Moscow is increasingly at odds with (bất hòa, xung khắc với) the Western efforts to end Assad’s crackdown (đàn áp).

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said outside forces (các lực lượng nước ngoài) should let Syrians settle (giải quyết) their conflict “independently.”

“We should not act like a bull (con trâu) in a china shop (cửa hàng đồ sứ),” 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 (xúi dục) 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 (quân nhân bỏ ngũ) are playing a bigger role in Syria’s Arab-Spring inspired uprising (có ảnh hưởng tử cuộc nổi dậy Mùa Xuân Ả Rập) , turning it into a more militarized conflict (xung đột quân sự) and hurtling (xô đẩy) the country ever more quickly toward a civil war (nội chiến).

The regime’s crackdown (sự đàn áp) on dissent (những người bất đồng) has left it almost completely isolated internationally (bị cô lập với cả thế giới) 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 (sứ thần, phái viên) left Syria this month, said he would not be replaced.

Nevertheless, Assad was bolstered (ủng hộ) by Tuesday’s visit from Lavrov and Russia’s intelligence chief (giám đốc tình báo), Mikhail Fradkov. During the talks, the Russians pushed for a solution (thúc đẩy một giải pháp)  that would include reforms (cải cách) by the regime as well as the dialogue with the opposition (đối thoại với phe đối lập).

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 (chế độ, nhà cầm quyền) and says they accept nothing less than Assad’s departure (sự ra đi, việc từ chức).

In Brussels, a senior EU official said the bloc (khối này) will soon impose harsher sanctions against Syria as it seeks to (tìm cách) 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 (giao dịch tài chính) with the country’s central bank (ngân hàng trung ương).

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity (giấu tên) in keeping with EU rules, said some measures would be adopted at the EU foreign ministers meeting on Feb. 27.

As Russia pressed its efforts (cố gây áp lực) to start a dialogue, Syrian troops (quân đội) 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 (chiếm lại) areas controlled by the rebels (quân nổi dậy).

Activists said at least 50 people died in Wednesday’s shelling (ném bom, bắn phá) of Homs, which has been under a relentless regime offensive (sự tấn công) for the past five days. Hundreds are believed to have been killed there since Saturday.

Syria’s state-run TV reported that gunmen fired mortar rounds at the oil refinery in Homs, one of two in Syria, setting two fuel tankers on fire but firefighters were able to control the blaze afterward. The TV also reported that gunmen attacked Homs’ Baath University causing damage but no casualties (không có thương vong).

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (Tổ chức Quan sát Nhân quyền) said at least 50 people were killed in Wednesday’s shelling of the Homs neighborhoods of Bayadah, Baba Amr, Khaldiyeh and Karm el-Zeytoun. The group also said that 23 homes were heavily damaged in Baba Amr alone.

Omar Shaker, an activist in Baba Amr, said his neighborhood was under “very intense shelling” by tanks, mortars (súng cối), artilleries and heavy machine guns. Shaker added that he counted five bodies Wednesday in his district.

“The situation is dire (rất tồi tệ, khốc liệt). We are short of food, water and medical aid. Doctors have collapsed after treating the wounded without rest for five days,” Shaker said. “We want Lavrov to come and spend a night in Homs to see what we have been passing through.”

The activist urged the international community (cộng đồng quốc tế) to set up a safe passage (hành lang an toàn) so that women and children can leave volatile areas (những vùng nhạy cảm , dễ bùng phát) of Homs.

The head of the Observatory, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said the regime was trying “exhaust rebels in preparation for storming neighborhoods.”

The Observatory and another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees (Ủy ban Điều phối Địa phương), also reported intense clashes (đụng độ dữ dội) between troops loyal to Assad and defectors (những người bỏ ngũ) on Wednesday in the province of Idlib, bordering  (tiếp giáp với) Turkey. The Observatory said at least five soldiers were killed in the clashes.

The LCC said troops backed by  tanks (được yểm trợ bằng xe tăng) were also shelling and pushing forward in the southern village of Tseel in the Daraa province that borders Jordan. The group also said that rebel-controlled Zabadani, west of Damascus, was subjected to (phải chịu) intense shelling (bắn phá không ngớt) since the early hours of the day.


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