While the U.N. ups its casualty count yesterday in the Syrian conflict to 8,000, we learn today of more gruesome ways Bashar al-Assad is targeting fleeing refugees. "Syria is laying landmines near its borders with Lebanon and Turkey, along routes used by refugees to escape the violence, Human Rights Watch reports," according to the BCC. There had been indication that Syria was using landmines before, but with reports that "a 28-year-old former Syrian Army deminer ... and a group of friends removed around 300 mines from the Hasanieih area in early March," Human Rights Watch has decided to weigh in with a report.
Meanwhile at a news conference today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly wrung his hands that supporting rebels in Syria might mean supporting al-Qaeda and that "the weapons coming to Syria could fall into the hands of this terrorist organization," according to CNN. It's a line we've heard from Russia before, trotted out as the veto-happy Security Council member continues to drag its feet in officially condemning Syria. The international organization met Monday to discuss the situation, with secretary-general Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser upping the death count to at least 8,000 and with the U.S. and Britain again pushing for a resolution despite Russia resistance. Syria, for its part, told Kofi Annan, the U.N.'s point person on the Syrian conflict, that it may be ready to start talking peace. According to The Wall Street Journal, Syria is expected to respond to the U.N.'s peace proposals today. But it's hard to be optimistic with at least 22 dead today alone in Syria, as CNN reports.