No new military planning effort underway: US on Syria

The Obama Administration has welcomed EU`s decision to lift the arms embargo on Syrian rebels.

Washington: The US has said it is not planning any new military effort involving the Syrian opposition, even as the Obama Administration has welcomed EU`s decision to lift the arms embargo on rebels.

"We welcome the EU action. Support for the opposition is a track that we are pursuing, even as we also work with the opposition in an effort to realise the Geneva Communiqué and bring about the political transition that is envisioned in it," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

The Pentagon, however, has said there has been no change in US stand of not providing arms support to Syrian rebels following EU`s decision.

"There is no new military planning effort underway with regard to Syria. The Joint Staff, along with the relevant combatant commanders, continue to conduct prudent planning for a range of possible military options," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in response to questions.

"We`ve made clear in the past, and again make clear, our firm belief that providing arms to the Assad regime does not bring us closer to the political transition that Syria deserves. So our position on that has not changed," he said, referring to Russian arms sales.

Meanwhile, a media report said the White House has asked Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone to be enforced by the US and other countries such as France and the UK.

"The White House is still in contemplation mode but the planning is moving forward and it`s more advanced than it`s ever been," one administration official was quoted as saying by The Daily Beast.

"All this effort to pressure the regime is part of overall effort to find a political solution, but what happens if Geneva fails? It`s only prudent to plan for other options," the official said.

Meanwhile, the State Department said the decision of the European Union to lift arms embargo against the Syrian rebels will advance their shared goal of achieving a negotiated political settlement. "This gives the flexibility to specific EU member states to assist the opposition in a way that each sees fit under their own national decision making.”

"We are working in the London 11 with this group of core supporters of the Syrian opposition, and this allows others to continue to accelerate that assistance to the opposition," State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said at his daily news conference.

"It is our position that a negotiated political settlement is the way to -- the most durable solution to this conflict.”

"But in terms of what assistance is being provided by groups of the London 11, we`re providing non-lethal assistance, and others are providing different kinds of help, but we`re doing so in a coordinated fashion," he said.

The UN reiterated its position of not arming any groups in Syria and favoured a political settlement.

Deputy UN Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey has said the position of the United Nations had been principled and consistent throughout this conflict, and that the UN believes a military solution is not the answer to the Syrian conflict.

He said the UN took note of the passing of the EU decision and the explicit reference to consult the Secretary General, and that nothing would be delivered prior to the US-Russia initiative.