WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration said Feb. 21 it did not favor arming Syria’s opposition but did not rule out the idea completely amid deadly clashes with Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Sen. John McCain, a senior Republican and Obama’s rival in the last presidential election in 2008, made a new call Feb. 20 on a visit to the region for Syria’s rebels to be given weapons to “defend themselves.”
“From our perspective, we don’t believe that it makes sense to contribute now to the further militarization of Syria,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
“What we don’t want to see is the spiral of violence increase. 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,” she said.
“We have not taken anything off the table,” she said.
More than 6,000 people have died in the Syrian regime’s 11-month crackdown on dissent, activists say. Russia and China have vetoed two proposed U.N. Security Council resolutions that would have put pressure on Assad.