Syria warns U.S. against military action

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BEIRUT -- A Syrian government official warned the United States yesterday that military intervention in Syria could lead to regional turmoil. He spoke as regime forces bombed a northern village and stormed a rebel-held Damascus suburb, killing dozens of people, activists said.

The comments came a day after President Barack Obama said the United States would reconsider its opposition to military involvement in the Syrian civil war if Bashar Assad's government deploys or uses chemical or biological weapons.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil called Obama's statements "propagandistic threats" made in connection with the U.S. presidential election.

But Jamil also said the comments indicate that the West is looking for a pretext to intervene militarily. He insisted that such intervention would be "impossible" because it would cause the civil war to spread to other countries in the region.

"Those who are contemplating this evidently want to see the crisis expand beyond Syria's borders," Jamil told reporters during a visit to Moscow.

The conflict already has spilled over into neighboring Lebanon, where sectarian tensions have risen.

Clashes that broke out Monday night in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli killed at least six people and wounded more than 70 in some of the most serious fighting in Lebanon in several months, the Lebanese state-run news agency said. The wounded included nine Lebanese soldiers.

Heavy fighting also continued yesterday in and around Aleppo.

On Monday, veteran Japanese war correspondent Mika Yamamoto became the first foreign journalist to die in the northern Syrian city since clashes between rebels and regime forces erupted there almost a month ago. Japan Foreign Ministry spokesman Masaru Sato said Yamamoto, 45, was hit by gunfire while she and a colleague were traveling with rebels from the Free Syrian Army.

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Most of yesterday's clashes appeared centered in Damascus suburbs, which have seen a dramatic spike in fighting in the past month. A rebel spokesman said 23 fighters of the Free Syrian Army were killed when government forces stormed the town at dawn.

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