U.S. security officials have discussed with their Israeli counterparts the possibility that Israel could strike Syria's weapons facilities, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing administration officials.
The report came after several top U.S. officials arrived in Israel for talks in recent weeks, including National Security Adviser Tom Dinilon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
On Wednesday, administration officials told the New York Times that Pentagon officials discussed whether or not Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, as part of a larger Syria strategy.
According to the officials, Washington is not advocating such an attack, because of the inherent risks such a move would bring, and because it would, the report said give "an Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference."
The Syria issue was included in the discussions between Donilon and Israeli officials, a White House official told the New York Times.
The report came hours after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday that the situation in Syria is "spinning out of control," adding that President Bashar Assad's government would be held responsible if it failed to safeguard its chemical weapons sites.
Syria's defense minister and Assad's brother-in-law were killed in a Damascus suicide bomb attack carried out by a bodyguard on Wednesday, the most serious blow to the president's high command in the country's 16-month-old rebellion.
"This is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control," Panetta said, adding that the international community needed to "bring maximum pressure on President Bashar Assad to do what's right, to step down and allow for that peaceful transition."
Panetta's comments to a Pentagon news conference followed closed door talks with his British counterpart, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond. Hammond, speaking alongside Panetta, said he believed the situation in Syria was deteriorating and "becoming more and more unpredictable."
The Damascus attack, Hammond said, showed the country's growing instability as the violence gets closer to the heart of the government.
"I think what we're seeing is an opposition which is emboldened, clearly an opposition which has access increasingly to weaponry, probably some fragmentation around the edges of the regime as well," he told reporters.
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