U.S. and U.K. discuss Syria during Pentagon meeting
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond told Pentagon reporters about military options related to Syria, including the idea to arm the forces opposed to Bashar al-Assad's regime. Hagel said the international community's objective is to halt the violence, promote stability and help the people of Syria transition to a government after Assad's exit.
"Any country, any power, any international coalition, any partnership is going to continue to look at options, how best to accomplish those objectives," Hagel said. "This is not a static situation."
Hagel and Hammond agreed that while arming the rebels is an option, a diplomatic solution in Syria is the most desired outcome.
"We continue to believe that a diplomatic solution is needed to end the bloodshed and that Assad and his close associates can have no place in the future of Syria," Hammond said. "We in the U.K. are stepping up our support to the national coalition and remind the regime that nothing has been taken off the table in the light of the continuing bloodshed."
Both military leaders expressed concern about the evidence that someone in Syria used a nerve agent during the conflict.
"We remain increasingly concerned at the emerging evidence of the use of chemical weapons, and we demand that the regime allow the U.N. to investigate these allegations," Hammond said. "Assad should be in no doubt that the world is watching and will hold him... and anyone else to account who is found responsible for the use of chemical weapons."
The U.S. and the U.K. continued discussions throughout Thursday and plan to meet next month at NATO.