Pentagon Weighs Syria Options

Arming rebels not being considered 'right now'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2012 4:43 AM CST
Pentagon Weighs Syria Options
Syrian pro-government protesters wave Syrian and Russian flags as a convoy carrying Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov heads towards the presidential palace in Damascus .   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – As the slaughter continues in Syria, the Pentagon has begun looking at options for supporting the rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime—though officials were quick to note that US policy remains focused on using only non-military options at present. Arming the rebels "is not being considered for now," says a White House spokesman. But the Pentagon has begun a preliminary review of its capabilities in light of its other current commitments in the region, because "it wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t put some ideas on the table," a senior military official tells CNN. He adds that this kind of review is a typical one, and CNN explains that the options are being assembled in case President Obama were to request them.

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With Western powers and their Arab allies weighing their options for supporting the opposition, and Iran and Russia supporting Assad's regime, analysts suspect a long and bloody proxy war lies ahead, likely with the US looking the other way as Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm the Syrian opposition, notes the Los Angeles Times. Russia's foreign minister, who arrived in Damascus for talks yesterday, says Assad wants his vice president to hold peace talks with the opposition. Activists say more than 40 people have been killed today as government forces continue their assault on Homs, which residents tell the BBC is under the heaviest shelling yet. (Read more Bashar al-Assad stories.)

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