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Sunday, 5 May 2013

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Obama foresees no US troops in Syria

5 May BBC

US President Barack Obama says he does not foresee a scenario that would require sending US troops to Syria.

He reaffirmed that clear evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons would be a "game changer", but that any response would not be rushed. Earlier Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US was no longer ruling out arming the rebels.

This comes as dozens of people were reportedly killed by government troops in north-western Syria on Thursday.

Mr Obama told reporters in Costa Rica on Friday that as a commander-in-chief he could rule nothing out "because circumstances change".

But he added he did not foresee a scenario in which "American boots on the ground in Syria" would be good for either America or Syria. He also said he had already consulted with Middle Eastern leaders and they agreed with him.

Mr Obama reiterated that there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, but that "we don't know when, where or how".He stressed that if strong evidence was found it would be "a game changer for us" because "there is a possibility that it (weapons) lands in the hands of organisations like Hezbollah" in neighbouring Lebanon.

On Thursday, Mr Hagel became the first senior US official to state publicly that Washington was reconsidering its opposition to supplying weapons to rebel forces.

"Arming the rebels - that's an option," he told reporters.You look at and rethink all options. It doesn't mean you do or you will. These are options that must be considered with the international community."

With no appetite for direct military intervention, many US officials increasingly feel that arming the rebels is now the least-worst option, the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says.

 

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