Reporter: Obama Admin Response to Attacks on Civilians' 'Weak Beer'

May 5, 2016

AP reporter Matt Lee repeatedly asked State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner whether the United States would take any more aggressive action in the wake of civilians being bombed at a refugee camp in Syria by Syrian regime planes.

After Toner said that there was "no justification for attacks on civilians in Syria," Lee pressed him as to why the United States has not implemented no-fly zones over parts of Syria.

"Doesn't this kind of an attack bolster the case that the Turks have been making for a long time, calls for, and even people here, for if not no-fly zones, real safe zones beyond just what you were talking about in terms of Aleppo, neighborhood-by-neighborhood safe zones?" Lee asked.

"Well, again, before, I don't want to speak before we have all the details on what exactly happened, but, let me just finish. Look, we don't want to set up specific no-fly zones. What we're working towards, and what we're trying to get in place here is a nationwide cessation of hostilities that we believe can endure and be strengthened over the long haul," Toner said. "That's been our aim here. It continues to be our focus versus a no-fly zone which we have talked about before, the reasons logistically why we feel that that's a non-starter."

"Why don't you support taking measures that would presumably prevent or at least minimize the chances of this kind of thing happening?" Lee asked.

"Well, I think we're always looking at what measures we can take to prevent these kinds of attacks in the future. As of today, I don't have any updates for you in terms of a no-fly zone. That remains, as I said, something we've said before is a challenge logistically and for many reasons are deciding not to pursue it," Toner said. "But we are pursuing as I said, this cessation of hostilities throughout the country. We're gonna focus on that right now."

After Toner again defended State's position, Lee left Toner with some criticism.

"OK, but that just seems like very, you know, weak beer, as it were."

Lee then said that the administration was "doing nothing."