US signals possibility of arming Syrian rebels

By Published: February 22, 2012

White House and State Department officials are reportedly considering the possibility of arming Syrian rebels if a political solution to the ongoing turmoil can't be reached and the bloodshed continues.

On Tuesday, more than 60 people in the restive city of Homs were said to have been killed in attacks by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to reports. The United Nations estimates at least 4,000 people have died since the unrest erupted in March 2011.

At a briefing Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the administration was focused on further political steps it could take to help end the violence, Reuters reported. But with that said, "if we can't get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures," Reuters quoted Nuland as saying.

Red Cross officials in Geneva are scheduled to meet Wednesday with a delegation from the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group, Retuers reported.

For the past few months, Arab and Western governments have come under pressure to do something, particularly in light of what was achieved in Libya.

"We don't rule out additional measures,"  Reuters quoted White House spokesman Jay Carney as saying.

In Damascus, the father (center) of a Syrian general killed in the unrest is comforted in this January 2012 photo. White House and State Department officials said Feb. 21, 2012, they are considering the possibility of arming Syrian rebels if the bloodshed continues.


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