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US re-evaluates military options in Syria

The US administration is discussing new options in Syria, including a range of military, diplomatic and intelligence activities, after talks between the rival sides have stalled and Russia has failed to put pressure on the Syrian regime, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The new options, according to officials cited by the Wall Street Journal, include expanding efforts to train and equip Syrian rebels, as well as setting up no-fly zones.

The officials explained that the stalled diplomatic effort in Geneva, which failed to reach a transitional government, has pushed the Obama administration to re-evaluate previous options that were temporarily put aside in favour of the talks.

"There is a general sense that it is time to take another look," a senior American official said, referring to the discussion of military options.

US and EU diplomats say that US Secretary of State John Kerry has been a leading advocate of re-examining the various military options, from using long-range missiles to prevent President Bashar Al-Assad's regime from flying its aircraft to creating humanitarian zones.

In addition, the options include training the opposition to hold territory outside the regime's control and to keep out rebels linked to Al-Qaeda.

The Wall Street Journal continued: "Kerry recently discussed military and intelligence options in Syria in a private meeting with retired Army General David Petraeus, who resigned as director of the CIA in 2012." Petraeus is a leading supporter of aiding Syria rebels.

While the re-evaluation has increasing support within the American military and intelligence communities, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has consistently been a leading voice of caution about using military options in Syria.

The newspaper noted that the White House has declined to comment on any specific options under reconsideration, however cited White House National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan as saying: "As the president has made clear, we are constantly looking at what options we can take to resolve the crisis in Syria. We are going to continue to work with all of the parties concerned to try to move forward on a diplomatic solution."

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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