Syria: US says military options 'may not be avoidable'
As diplomacy founders, and shelling of Homs continues, 'the window is closing' on Assad
AMID intense diplomatic efforts to halt the shelling by the Syrian regime of civilians in the rebel stronghold of Homs, the United States reportedly believes that a "militarisation" of the situation might no longer be avoidable.
A senior State Department official told The Daily Telegraph that the Russian-Chinese veto of a UN resolution condemning the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (above) had made military involvement more likely.
"The decision-makers have not determined we are at a point of no return," the official admitted, but he warned that "the window is closing" and that nothing was off the table.
"We definitely don't want to militarise the situation," he said. "If it's avoidable we are going to avoid it. But increasingly it looks like it may not be avoidable.
"There is always hope that this can be solved without it turning into a full-scale civil war and without the use of force, but it really involves Bashar al-Assad receiving the wake-up call."
The Pentagon is reportedly reviewing its military capabilities in the region. While Senator John McCain, the former presidential candidate, has called for the US to arm the opposition Free Syrian Army, others have suggested setting up a safe haven or a humanitarian corridor. These last two options would require military involvement to protect civilians and aid workers.
White House spokesman Jay Carney yesterday refused to rule out arming the Syrian opposition. He said that the US would meet in the near future with international partners to discuss halting the violence and delivering humanitarian aid.
Turkey is also planning an international conference of regional and world powers, Al Jazeera reports, while the Arab League says it wants to resume its observer mission, which it suspended last month because of the violence.
Meanwhile in Homs, opposition activists say Assad is pouring reinforcements into the city, which is under bombardment for the fifth day in a row. They told Reuters that 40 tanks, 50 infantry vehicles and 1,000 soldiers had moved in - suggesting that Assad's assurances to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday that he was "completely committed to the task of stopping violence" were hollow. ·