U.S. General: Pentagon Prepared to Provide 'Military Options' on Syria

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, tells CBS that Defense Department is prepared for a scenario in which diplomatic pressure on Assad regime fails.

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The U.S. Defense Department was prepared to provide "military options" on ending the violence in Syria should mounting diplomatic pressure not stop the fighting, the top U.S. military official told broadcaster CBS Monday.

"I think that diplomatic pressure should always precede any discussions about military options. And that is my job by the way, is options, not policy. And so, we will be prepared to provide (military) options if asked to do so," General Martin Dempsey told CBS This Morning.

His comments came after the UN Security Council unanimously decried the use of tanks and artillery in a recent attack by Syrian forces on the town of Houla, killing at least 108 people.

It was the latest report of mass casualties in more than a year of fighting in which more than 12,000 people have died, according to opposition activists.

"The events in Syria over the weekend are just horrific. Atrocious, really. I expect that the international community, that pressure will mount," Dempsey said. He left open the question of whether diplomacy, not military intervention, would be enough to end the fighting. "That is always the question. I don't know whether in Syria's particular case, a combination of economic and diplomatic measures will achieve that. But I certainly encourage our leaders, the international leaders to take that course and try to come together in a way that would cause Assad to make the right decision," Dempsey said.

The wreckage of a bus carrying officers and soldiers is pictured after an explosion on a road in Aleppo May 28, 2012. Credit: Reuters

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