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WORLD IN BRIEF: Syria tightens Hama siege

Syria tightens Hama siege

BEIRUT -- Syrian troops tightened their siege on the city of Hama on Tuesday, sending residents fleeing for their lives and drawing a fresh wave of international condemnation against a regime defying the growing calls to end its crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with U.S.-based Syrian democracy activists as the Obama administration weighed new sanctions on Syria. Congressional calls also mounted for action against President Bashar Assad's regime, as the death toll from two days of military assaults on civilians Sunday and Monday neared 100.

Italy recalled its ambassador to Syria ''in the face of the horrible repression against the civil population'' by the government, which launched a new push against protesters as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Monday. It was the first European Union country to pull its ambassador, and the measure came a day after the EU tightened sanctions on Syria.

Tropical Storm Emily on path toward Haiti

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Rain and wind gusts from the outer bands of Tropical Storm Emily struck Puerto Rico on Tuesday as the storm system gathered strength on a track that threatened the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The rain fell hardest in western Puerto Rico, largely sparing the capital, but there were no reports of major damage or injuries and no immediate demand for the nearly 400 schools that were converted into emergency shelters around the island. Emily had been expected to bring up to 6 inches to the island.

Taliban suicide bomber kills 4 in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide bomber blew up his car outside a compound frequented by foreigners in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing four guards, as two other militants stormed the building and battled Afghan police.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault in Kunduz city -- the latest in a rising number of attacks in northern Afghanistan.

The blast damaged several buildings nearby, and flames could be seen shooting up an exterior wall. Shattered glass and a severed leg lay on the ground, while other body parts had been collected and tied up in a blanket.