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Top Defense Chiefs to Update Congress on Syria

Washington, DC
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey went before Senate lawmakers Wednesday to offer their views on the role of the U.S. with the changing dynamics within the Syrian government.

Sec. Panetta pushed back against Senators calling for military action now against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

He and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey told the Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon is reviewing its options, but they said the situation in Syria is much more complicated than Libya and an international consensus would be required before any military strikes.

Speaking about the region as a whole, Secretary Panetta told the Committee that the unrest in Syria has weakened Iran’s position in the region. Both witnesses confirmed that Iran is supplying the Assad regime with weapons and other assistance.

The Obama administration has committed to provide direct assistance to the internal opposition in Syria, signaling a change in U.S. policy toward current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 1:48pm (ET)

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