President Obama once again rejected the use of U.S. military force to help bring an end to the brutal crackdown by Syrian strongman Bashar al Assad on the popular uprising in that country.
In a rare press appearance at the White House earlier today, Obama described the situation in Syria as "heartbreaking and outrageous," calling Assad’s actions "inexcusable."
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Yet the president reiterated his unwillingness to commit U.S. military power to the effort to oust the Syrian leader.
"It's not a question of…if Assad leaves, it's a question of when," Obama said. "On the other hand, for us to take military action, unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think, is a mistake."
Yesterday Senator John McCain made the case for US-led airstrikes to topple the Assad regime before it is able to crush the year long rebellion. This morning, CENTCOM commander General James Mattis seemed to offer support for the idea, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that bringing an end to the Assad regime would be "the biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years." Mattis said that providing arms to the Syrian rebels "is perhaps an option."
However, Foreign Policy Magazine reported earlier today that the Obama administration will not provide arms to the Syrian opposition. The administration will provide communications equipment and humanitarian supplies and will refrain from objecting should other nations choose to provide arms to the Syrian rebels.
The Washington Post editorial board has criticized Obama in the past for his "passive" stance on the Syrian uprising.