DAMASCUS, Syria, May 19 (UPI) -- Members of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime denounced new U.S. sanctions against Assad and key aides as part of a U.S. plot to dominate the Middle East.
The sanctions, officials said Thursday, also are meant to serve Israel's interests, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"The U.S. measures are part of a series of sanctions imposed by successive U.S. administrations against the Syrian people as part of a regional scheme, aimed primarily at serving Israel's interests," the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported, quoting an unnamed official source. "Any aggression against Syria is akin to U.S. support for Israeli aggressions against Syria and the Arabs."
President Barack Obama imposed tough sanctions Wednesday against Assad and his top aides in an attempt to get the regime to end its violent response to a popular uprising.
Syria's government-controlled Watan newspaper painted the sanctions as part of a conspiracy meant to punish Syria for its relations with Iran, militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, and other organizations. A commentary published Thursday said sanctions were meant to pressure Syria to sever ties with the militant organizations.
Meanwhile, residents in Lebanon's villages along the Syrian border are asking for more government aid for Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their home country.
Thousands of Syrian refugees have crossed into Lebanon in recent days, arriving in the Wadi Khaled and Akkar areas in desperate need of help, The (Beirut) Daily Star reported Thursday.
Syrians have been crossing into Lebanon to escape violence as government troops battle pro-democracy protesters seeking more freedoms and the ouster of Assad.
Mohammad Ahmad, the leader of Heisheh village in Wadi Khaled, said aid provided by the Higher Relief Council was insufficient.
"It is very shameful that this is all that the Higher Relief Committee, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the United Nations can do," Ahmad said. "We are incurring considerable costs [to help the refugees], but it's not a problem because we share the same destiny.
Leaders of several other villages told The Daily Star they also didn't have enough aid to distribute to the refugees. One leader, however, said aid distribution in his village was adequate.