Pentagon: We must refine options as situation changes in Syria
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little followed up on a Thursday statement made by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the possibility the U.S. might arm the Syrian opposition. Little said the situation in Syria is complex, in part, because the opposition contains both jihadists and moderate elements.
"This administration has been focused squarely on Syria for a long time," Little said.
Little said the U.S. government has tried using economic and diplomatic levers to try to get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command officials are providing military options to President Barack Obama in case they are needed.
Little said that first and foremost, Assad must be removed from his position in Syria.
"Assad must go," Little said. "We hope that the Syrian people can determine their own future and that there is a responsible transition to a new Syria."
The U.S. military is supporting the State Department in providing humanitarian assistance to people in Syria, including packaged meals. The U.S. is also providing nonlethal aid to the opposition, such as night-vision goggles and body armor.
"We're all clear-eyed about the challenges in this crisis, and it may not end overnight," Little said. "But if we can push this to a place where the violence is drawn down, there is an exit for Assad and there is a way to drive a political solution for the Syrian people themselves, that would be ideal."