- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Wednesday said the U.S. will provide emergency humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, with an initial commitment of $10 million.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Panetta also said the U.S. would work with the regional members of the Friends of Syria group and others to “help strengthen the [Syrian] opposition.”

The defense secretary laid out several U.S. options on Syria, though all stop short of military intervention.

Mr. Panetta said the U.S. is reviewing all “possible additional steps that can be taken with our international partners to support efforts to protect the Syrian people, end the violence, and ensure regional stability, including potential military options if necessary.”

“Although we will not rule out any future course of action, currently the administration is focusing on diplomatic and political approaches rather than a military intervention,” he said.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the committee, urged military intervention in his opening remarks.

“[Syrian President Bashar] Assad needs to know that he will not win, and unfortunately that is not the case now,” said Mr. McCain.

• Kristina Wong can be reached at kwong@washingtontimes.com.

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