Pentagon Draws Up ‘Internal Review’ as US Searches for Way to Stop Syria Killing
The Pentagon is drawing up contingency plans for intervention in Syria that include military action, as the Obama administration casts around for a more effective strategy to stop the regime in Damascus carrying out violence its own people.
The defence department has for several weeks been planning a range of US actions, from dealing with a flood of refugees and the provision of medical relief to a direct military assault on Syria. Included in the planning is intervention coordinated with allies such as Turkey and other countries in Nato.
Administration officials said the “internal review” was at the initiative of the Pentagon, not the White House, in order to be able to present options to President Obama if he were to call for them. Officials said they are not an indication of a shift away from the focus on the pursuit of a diplomatic solution with a strong emphasis on sanctions against Damascus.
But pressure is growing in Washington for more decisive action by the Obama administration as the Assad regime intensifies its assault on Homs, reportedly killing scores of people in recent days in shelling. More than 5,000 people are believed to have been killed in the uprising over the past year.
The calls for Washington to act more decisively have also strengthened after Russia and China vetoed a UN security council resolution intended to ratchet up international pressure by calling on Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to resign.
Senator John McCain, who was a strong supporter of military intervention in Libya, this week said the US should plan to deliver weapons to the Syrian rebels.
“We should start considering … arming the opposition. The blood-letting has got to stop,” he said.
McCain was joined in the call for support to the rebels by senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham and other members of Congress.
Syrian protesters have been appealing for outside intervention for months.
The Pentagon declined to discuss the preparations.