`Military option could escalate humanitarian crisis in Syria`
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Last Updated: Saturday, March 10, 2012, 21:06
Washington: The US has ruled out military option in Syria, as it believes it could only escalate the humanitarian crisis there, but vowed to ramp up pressure on Syrian regime by involving the international community.

The White House said a proposal for air strikes "has come up" for discussion.

"....part of what concerns us about that type of proposal is that could actually escalate the humanitarian crisis without solving the problem," said a White House official on condition of anonymity when asked about the military options in Syria as was done in the case of Libya.

The environment and circumstances in Syria is much more different from that in Libya, with whom it is often compared, the official said.

"You know, you could have more people killed, more violence, more militarization of the situation in Syria without essentially reversing the situation on the ground," the official said in an interaction with a group of journalist.

The official, however, said the elements of a strategy in Syria includes the international community working to pressure the Assad regime, provide humanitarian assistance, and provide a support structure for political transition. "And that includes engaging the opposition and the Syrian National Council in particular go forward."

He said the US will continue work the Friends of Syria group that's been established to look at all "possible means of providing assistance to the Syrian people and putting pressure on the Syrian regime".

The UN has estimated that over 7,500 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began a year ago.

The White House official said the US and its allies in Europe, the Arab League, and Turkey "are working together to call for an end to the violence, call for Assad to step down, to support a transition to a new Syrian government, to figure out ways to provide humanitarian assistance into the country, to coordinate sanctions that cut off the Syrian regime's assets to the revenue they need to continue their crackdown, to encourage defections among Syrian leadership".

"We believe that that can have a material impact that we can choke off resources to the regime, that we can incentive through those actions defections from within the Syrian regime, and we can be there to support a transition," he said.

In terms of a military intervention, the differences between the situation in Syria and Libya include but go beyond the UN. "It's certainly true that in Libya one had UNSC mandate which was important to supporting US efforts".

The official said in Libya you had a very viable military option in the sense that the situation that presented itself a year ago was an advancing army that could essentially be stopped in certain areas, thereby creating civilian protection zones, giving space to the opposition from the air in particular.

"In Syria, it's a much more difficult environment because you basically have regime security forces that are in many respects intermingled with the population," the official said.

He said a lot of "the catastrophic violence" is taking place through artillery, through shelling, through snipers.

"And for those reasons, there's not simple military options that present themselves as well. So that too is a difference," the official said.

The UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has raised concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in Syria with the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in Damascus.

After a two-day recent visit to Syria, the UN official said she was "horrified" to see the destruction in the country and stressed that aid workers should be given regular and unhindered access to help people in areas affected by the year-long fighting and violence.


First Published: Saturday, March 10, 2012, 21:05

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