By Ria Novosti
A unilateral U.S. military action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria would be a “mistake,” U.S. President Barack Obama said.
The statement comes as a response to Monday’s call by U.S. Senator John McCain to carry out air strikes on pro-government forces in Syria to force al-Assad to step down.
“For us to take military action unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake,” Obama said at a news conference.
A number of senior U.S. Congress officials earlier said it was premature to speak about U.S. military action in Syria.
“I think the situation in Syria is pretty complicated. Until there is clearer direction as to what’s happening there involving ourselves at this time would be premature,” Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, a Republican, said earlier in the day.
House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen hinted that a U.S. military action in Syria is unlikely to get the approval at the moment.
“The American people and the constituents that I represent, they are cautious about getting involved in another military operation. I understand the humanitarian issues involved… But I hear people saying, ‘Who’s going to enforce the no-fly zone? Who’s going to do all of this? Is it always the U.S.?” Ros-Lehtinen said.
“So my heart agrees with him [McCain], but my head says no,” she added.
However, The Cable blog at the Foreign Policy magazine’s website said, citing unnamed administration sources, that the U.S. administration is moving to provide direct assistance to the internal opposition in Syria.
“The Obama administration is moving to provide direct assistance to the internal opposition in Syria for the first time, marking a shift in U.S. policy toward a more aggressive plan to help oust President Bashar al-Assad,” the blog reads.
The U.S. may provide direct humanitarian and communications assistance to the Syrian opposition, but a direct military assistance to the armed opposition, the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Syria or the use of U.S. military force are all still off the table.
Speaking at a news conference late on Tuesday the U.S. president also said that al-Assad’s fall was only a matter of time. “Ultimately this dictator will fall,” he said.
Simon Collis, the U.K. ambassador to Syria recalled last week, told Sky News on Tuesday al-Assad would be out of power within a year.
“Could he hang on until the end of the year? Maybe he could. Will he hang on beyond that? Personally I don’t think he will,” he said.
Syria has been the scene of continuous anti-government protests for nearly a year. According to the United Nations, more than 7,500 people have died in the unrest, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blames on “armed terrorist gangs.”