Gen. Dempsey: Situation in Syria extraordinarily complex

July 27, 2012 11:17:03 PM PDT
A showdown between rebels and government troops in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, is imminent. That's the word from the United Nations' human rights office as the regime's forces are massing overwhelming firepower to crush those that remain. We talked with the highest ranking general in the U.S. military Friday about the U.S. response.

When the U.S. took military action against Libya, it was to protect Libya's civilian population from slaughter. From what we're seeing in Syria, the slaughter continues without U.S. intervention.

Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad bombarded Aleppo again Friday in what reports on the ground say is the most serious violence the cities of Aleppo and Damascus have seen since the conflict began 17 months ago.

Aleppo is being bombed with artillery mortars and fighter planes. Thousands have fled in anticipation of massacre. But unlike Libya, there is no international response to prevent Assad's troops from killing civilians.

Friday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs, told ABC7 that Syria presents a very different situation. "We have been discussing a range of options for some time, among them would be assisting the opposition," he said. "I've never heard a discussion about assisting them with lethal support,"

The carnage may look the same, but Dempsey told ABC7 the situation in Syria is significantly different. There are tribal, ethnic and religious issues that did not exist in Libya, and there is no unified call from the Arab League.

"The situation in Syria is extraordinarily more complex," said Dempsey.

When asked about why the U.S. won't intervene, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday that there's also China and Russia's refusal to oppose Assad. "We've been very blunt about our disappointment with the Russians and the Chinese, and the fact that they have vetoed the three meaningful resolutions that were put before the United Nations Security Council."

Relief agencies have pulled out of Aleppo, fearing for the safety of their workers. The Associated Press is reporting Friday that a 6-year-old boy was killed by Syrian border guards while trying to escape into Jordan with his family.


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