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Target Syria, Iran together, lawmakers say

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Syria and Iran are "partners in crime" and should be targeted equally by direct sanctions from Washington, a U.S. lawmaker said.

Washington and the rest of the international community have ratcheted up the sanctions pressure on Damascus as the regime's bloody crackdown continues. More than 2,000 people were killed at the hands of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, including hundreds killed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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Tehran, for its part, has earned the scorn of its Western adversaries for its poor human rights record. There's been little heard, meanwhile, from two of Iran's leading opposition members since their arrest in early spring.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Washington should directly target each regime with equal fervor.

"The Iranian and Syrian regimes are partners in crime, and the U.S. should apply the same sanctions to both dictatorships," she said. "Both regimes brutally oppress their own citizens, and the Iranian regime is helping the Syrian regime with its ongoing bloody crackdown."

In a separate measure, Ros-Lehtinen proposed a measure to make funding for the United Nations voluntary. The world body, she said, is "plagued by scandal, mismanagement, and inaction."

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The State Department said it opposes both measures.

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