Syrian official warns US against intervention

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian government official warned the United States on Tuesday that military intervention in Syria could lead to regional turmoil 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 U.S would reconsider its opposition to military involvement in the Syrian civil war if Bashar Assad’s government deploys or uses chemical or biological weapons, describing it as a “red line” for the United States.

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 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 between the two sides 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.

Assad is a member of Syria’s Alawite minority, while rebels fighting his regime are predominantly Sunnis.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was “very concerned” about the spillover effect from Syria.

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