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Still, the overall sentiment of the hearing was that more action needs to be taken beyond international diplomacy, and direct U.S. interaction with Syrian opposition, including military aid, arose as the most popular suggestion.

“There are difficulties (in identifying opposition),” Mr. Kerry said after the hearing. “Any operation has to be well thought out and carefully planned, and I’d want to see that.

“But we have to increasingly raise the pressure on Assad. We have to change his calculations.”