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Syria's war reaches solidly pro-Assad Aleppo

Assad's forces retook some parts of Damascus over the weekend, but in a potentially more telling sign, rebels brought the fighting to previously quiet Aleppo.

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And as Russia and China continue to stymie a United Nations Security Council response to the Syrian conflict, the United States, European Union, and Arab League have all moved independently to attempt to resolve the situation.  Today Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi offered President Assad and his family a "safe exit" from Syria if he should resign immediately, The Telegraph reports.  Mr. Arabi also announced that the Arab League has committed $100 million to handling Syrian refugees who have fled the country.

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Also today, a meeting of EU foreign ministers agreed to expand sanctions against the Syrian regime, imposing asset freezes and travel bans against 26 more people and banning EU companies from doing business with three more entities, reports Reuters.  The sanctions also require EU governments to search suspect Syria-bound planes and ships for weapons and other banned equipment. 

And The New York Times reported over the weekend that Obama administration officials have at least temporarily shelved diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis, in favor of boosting rebels and rallying like-minded countries to topple the Assad regime.  The Times writes that the US hopes to provide more communication equipment and training to the rebels, and may supply them with intelligence as well.

By enhancing the command-and-control of the rebel formations, largely by improving their ability to communicate with one another and their superiors and to coordinate combat operations, American officials say they are seeking to build on and fuel the momentum of the rebels’ recent battlefield successes.

“You’ll notice in the last couple of months, the opposition has been strengthened,” a senior Obama administration official said Friday. “Now we’re ready to accelerate that.” The official said that the hope was that support for the Syrian opposition from the United States, Arab governments and Turkey would tip the balance in the conflict.

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