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Dempsey: U.S. Mulling Use of Force in Syria

Attacking in Syria “is under deliberation inside of our agencies of government,” general tells Senate
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/18/2013, 9:06 PM

US General Martin Dempsey
US General Martin Dempsey
Flash 90

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey told a Senate panel Thursday the Obama administration is deliberating whether to use military power in Syria.

The use of “kinetic strikes,” a military term that usually refers to missiles and bombs, “is under deliberation inside of our agencies of government,” he said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had asked him which approach in Syria would carry a greater risk: continued limited action by the U.S. or more meaningful actions such as the establishment of a no-fly zone and arming the rebel forces with advanced weapons.

“Senator, I am in favor of building a moderate opposition and supporting it,” Dempsey said. “The question whether to support it with direct kinetic strikes…  is a decision for our elected officials, not for the senior military leader of the nation.”

Dempsey said that he has provided President Barack Obama with options for the use of force. But he would not specify what the options were, saying “it would be inappropriate for me to try to influence the decision with me rendering an opinion in public about what kind of force we should use.”

“There are a whole range of options that are out there,” Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said of the planning for military action in Syria. “We are ready to act if we’re called on to act.”

The two-year Syrian Civil War has claimed the lives of at least 100,000 people so far, according to the UN, as western powers continue to debate whether to intervene, and if so how.