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INTERNATIONAL > Al-Assad must leave, Obama tells G-8 meet

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G-8 leaders on May 19 called for a “political transition” in Syria and for an end to violence after U.S.

President Barack Obama told G-8 leaders meeting at Camp David that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power, and pointed to Yemen as a model of how a political transition could work there, the White House said.

 Ben Rhodes, an official with the National Security Council, said the G-8 leaders – from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Canada, plus the United States, which is hosting the summit – discussed at their intimate May 18 dinner how a political transition could take place in Syria. Obama brought up Yemen as an example of a leader departing power peacefully and ushering in a democratic process, Rhodes said, telling the press, “Our point was that we need to see political transition underway that brings real change to Syria.” He added, “We believe that change has to include Bashar al-Assad leaving power.”

Bomb targets observers

Meanwhile, G-8 leaders on May 19 called for a “Syrian-led, inclusive political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system.” The group at Camp David, Maryland also called on the Syrian government and all parties to “immediately and fully adhere” to an internationally backed plan to end violence. “The Syrian government and all parties must immediately and fully adhere to commitments to implement the six-point plan of U.N. and Arab League joint special envoy... Kofi Annan.” That, they said, includes “immediately ceasing all violence.”

Fierce fighting between regime troops and armed rebels rocked parts of Damascus overnight, monitors said yesterday, as the G8 called for a “political transition” to end relentless violence sweeping Syria. Also, a roadside bomb exploded in a restive suburb of the Syrian capital yesterday as senior U.N. officials toured the area yesterday, blowing off the front of a parked vehicle but causing no casualties.

Visiting U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous and Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the chief of U.N. observers in Syria were some 150 meters away, along with accompanying journalists, when the blast went off in the Douma suburb, engulfing a Toyota pickup car in flames and smoke.

A security official at the checkpoint told the U.N. observers that gunmen had targeted two military buses in Douma earlier in the day, wounding more than 30 security agents. Also yesterday, an anti-Syrian cleric and his bodyguard were shot dead in neighboring Lebanon, where a spillover of Syria’s conflict has inflamed tensions and triggered deadly sectarian fighting in recent days.
Syria closed its Babel Hava border crossing to vehicles with Turkish license plate on May 19. An executive of the International Transporters’ Association of Turkey said vehicles which left Turkey’s Cilvegozu border crossing in Reyhanli town of the southern province of Hatay returned back to Turkey as they were not allowed to enter Syria at the Babel Hava border crossing. However, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan said yesterday border crossing with Syria was open now, and closure of border crossings would harm Syria not Turkey.

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.

May/21/2012

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