Obama renews sanctions on Syria
President Barack Obama Monday renewed US sanctions on Syria for a year, accusing Damascus of supporting "terrorist" groups and pursuing missile programs and weapons of mass destruction.
There had been no expectation that Obama would lift the measures, but the renewal came at an especially sensitive time in often tense US-Syria relations, despite efforts by the administration to return an ambassador to Damascus.
The United States has also recently accused Syria and Iran of arming Hezbollah with increasingly sophisticated rockets and missiles, which it says are undermining stability in the region.
Obama said in a message to Congress renewing the sanctions imposed by former US president George W. Bush in 2004, that the Syrian government had made "some progress" in suppressing the infiltration of foreign fighters bound for Iraq.
But he added that its "continuing support for terrorist organizations and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."
Obama also called on Syria to demonstrate "progress" in the areas that Washington says justify sanctions, to allow them to be lifted in future.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against the risk of sparking a regional war if he supplies long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah, a Shiite militia group.
"President Assad is making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region," she told a pro-Israel group.