U.S. exploring possible war crimes charges against Damascus.
DAMASCUS – Syrian security forces determined to quell a three-month uprising stormed the northern village of Badama, near the Turkish border, a witness and an activist said Saturday, according to CNN. Units entered the village equipped with at least six tanks, 21 armed personnel carriers, 10 security buses and randomly fired at houses, the Syrian activist said, adding that security forces also closed the road to the village of Khirbet Aljooz.
Two activists said the forces shelled the mountains around Badama, causing a fire that will block refugees and aid. Turkish helicopters were flying in the area, Saib said. CNN could not verify on which side of the border the helicopters were operating.
Meanwhile, the British government Saturday advised its citizens to leave Syria immediately and not travel there while the United States is collecting information on possible war crimes by Syrian security forces amid a violent crackdown on opposition protesters, a senior Obama administration official said Friday, the CNN informs. The official also said that the United States is considering further economic pressure on the Syrian government, including sanctions on the country’s oil-and-gas sector. The Obama administration is lobbying members of the U.N. Security Council to support a resolution on Syria that, as another administration official put it, “would send a strong message to President Assad.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday, but State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland gave no details, saying only “it was a good conversation.” Clinton, so far, has not spoken with China which, like Russia, is believed to be reluctant to support any U.N. resolution.
Critics have argued that the administration is pulling its punches on Syria, in contrast to its quick action at the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force to protect peaceful Libyan protesters from attacks by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.
In an editorial entitled, “There Is No Going Back in Syria,” Clinton said that nearly 1,300 Syrians have been killed since protests began and thousands more have been jailed.
Meanwhile, the number of Syrian refugee in southern Turkey reached 10,553, Xinhua reported on Sunday.