US objects military intervention in Syria

Updated: 2012-05-30 10:50


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WASHINGTON - The White House Tuesday reiterated its opposition to military intervention in Syria, saying such a move will lead to "greater chaos."

"We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action," said White House spokesman Jay Carney at a regular briefing.

"We believe that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage," he told reporters.

Carney's remarks came after the US State Department earlier the day announced the expulsion of Syria's charge d'affaires in Washington, in protest of a Friday massacre in the Syrian village of Houla that left more than 100 people dead.

The US action was taken in coordination with such countries as Australia, Canada, Spain, Britain, Italy, France and Germany, which have also expelled Syrian ambassadors or charges d'affaires from their capitals.

However, despite the increasingly hardline approach on the Syrian government, the Obama administration remains cautious or even concerned about a military intervention or arming the opposition in the Arab nation.

Washington has been deeply doubtful that aerial bombings can topple the Assad regime quickly with small civilian casualties. The Obama administration has also been concerned that arming the opposition, which may include the al-Qaida elements, would empower the Islamist extremists in Syria or even ignite a civil war.

"The nature and shape of and the membership of the opposition is still something that we and our partners are assessing," said Carney, when asked if Washington would discourage some Gulf nations from arming the opposition groups.

"That is another consideration that has to be acknowledged when efforts like that are undertaken," the spokesman continued.

Noting the differences between the Syria and Libya situations, Carney emphasized that the current US position remains to "provide non-lethal assistance, to provide humanitarian assistance, and to work with our allies and partners to further pressure and isolate the Assad regime."

He said the United States is working with its allies on further actions on the Assad regime, but he declined to elaborate.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, the country's top military officer, said Monday that he would not rule out a possible military option if "atrocities" continued in Syria.

Dempsey's statement sparked speculations that Washington is considering military intervention in the Arab nation.

But Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday that those remarks did not mean a shift of policy, stressing that "the focus remains on the diplomatic and economic track."