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May 30, 2012

U.S. holds line on Syria

U.S. Press Secretary Jay Carney offered no new tactics for ending bloodshed in Syria. (UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg)

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Other than booting out Syria's diplomats, the Obama administration's top spokesman Tuesday offered no new U.S. tactics for ending the bloodshed in Syria.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at his daily press briefing the administration would continue its strategy of talking to officials from other nations and the U.N. Security Council to come up with ways to pressure President Bashar Assad to end his military's assault on the Syrian citizenry and step down from power so a transition to democracy can occur.

Carney called the weekend massacre in Syria, in which dozens of women and children died, "a horrifying testament to this regime's depravity." The United States was one of 10 countries that ordered Syrian diplomats to return to Damascus.

"The international community is united in its revulsion at the regime's actions through both its military and its thug forces, and we are ratcheting up the pressure on and isolation of this murderous regime," Carney said.

But when asked what "ratcheting up the pressure" would entail, Carney was unable to provide reporters with specifics, saying he doesn't want to "get ahead of the consultations" with allies and the Security Council "to consider punitive measures against Assad."

As the administration has said previously, Carney intoned that "military action is always an option," though he added that "would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage."

"We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action," Carney said.

President Obama's press secretary said the administration believes "there is a desire among some of the members of the Assad regime to defect" and is encouraging them do so.

Carney said the administration continues to back former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts to broker an end to the violence.

Asked if Obama's policy in Syria is a success, a failure or yet to be determined, Carney said the situation in the Middle Eastern country "continues to evolve" and "is far from what we or any nation that cares about the people of Syria hopes it will become."

"As for assessments of that policy, I think we'll leave that for others to make," he said.

"Our position now is to provide non-lethal assistance, to provide humanitarian assistance, and to work with our allies and partners to further pressure and isolate the Assad regime," Carney said.

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