Turkey and Japan today joined a number of nations who have given Syrian diplomats within their borders the boot, as the head of the UN observers in Syria revealed that 13 bodies had been found with their hands tied in the country's east, reports Reuters. But the developments are unlikely to chip away at Russia and China's resistance to taking tougher steps against Syria. To wit, Russia's deputy foreign minister today announced that Russia is "categorically against" military intervention in Syria and noted that it would be "premature" for the UN Security Council to take any fresh steps.
The BBC notes that, in light of Russia's veto power on the council, the latest remarks indicate there's little hope for new initiatives. And the overall lack of progress is only underscored by the fact that Kofi Annan this morning left Syria—without getting the government to agree to take any of the "bold steps" he was pushing, reports Voice of America. Writing for the Washington Post, David Ignatius thinks the answer is easy—Bashar al-Assad needs to go—and the reason why that's not happening is obvious: Vladimir Putin, who is "playing a cynical game of power politics." The focus shouldn't be on pressuring Assad, but on turning "up the heat on Putin," he writes.