Military action in Syria would need UN backing
Fri, June 1 2012 09:13 | 1076 Views
Aboard a US Military Aircraft (ANTARA News) - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that any military action in Syria would need backing from the United Nations, but called recent violence "intolerable."
USS John C Stennis (CVN-74) in a military mission from it's San Diego homebase. The US fleet in preparation to take any military actions to Syrian theatre if the recent situation is intolerable. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
... always important for the United States of America to protect every possible option for taking action in the future...
Panetta said his duty as Pentagon chief was "to make sure that when we deploy our men and women in uniform and put them at risk, that we not only know what the mission is but we have the kind of support that we need in order to accomplish that mission."
But he said the situation in Syria was "intolerable," and that the United States was not ruling out any course of action.
"It's always important for the United States of America to protect every possible option for taking action in the future," Panetta told reporters aboard his plane bound for Singapore.
Panetta's comments came a day after the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, warned of possible US military intervention if Russia refuses to drop its opposition to tough sanctions against Damascus.
"I think we may be beginning to see the wheels coming off of this bus," Rice said as AFP reports.
Rice spoke of three possible scenarios: Syria could implement a UN-brokered peace deal, the Security Council could ratchet up the pressure on Damascus or, failing that, outside powers could be forced to launch a military action.
But Rice appeared to back away from that stance on Thursday and did not repeat her statement.
After Panetta's briefing with reporters, his press secretary, George Little, said comments by the Pentagon chief and the UN ambassador were not "mutually exclusive."
"He said very clearly that we're preserving all of our options. He's not taking any option off the table or suggesting that`s administration policy," Little said.
Panetta, who opposes unilateral military action, wants to see more diplomatic and economic pressure against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad`s regime favors keeping all options in play, Little said.
"That doesn`t mean the secretary`s comments are at odds with what she said," Little said.
President Barack Obama's administration has expressed growing frustration with Russia over its opposition to sanctions against Assad.
Russia is Syria's last main international ally, and has defended Assad in UN Security Council debates. "This is an intolerable situation," Panetta said.
"We cannot be satisfied with what`s going on. And the international community has got to take further steps to make sure that Assad steps down."
Editor: Ade Marboen
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