No-fly zone not "silver bullet" for Syrian conflict: senior U.S. official

2013-06-14 23:59:37 GMT2013-06-15 07:59:37(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, June 14 (Xinhua) -- No-fly zone is not a "silver bullet" to stop the bloody conflict in Syria, the White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Friday.

Rhodes made the remarks while addressing a White House news briefing.

The White House concluded in a statement Thursday that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against rebels, a major move that signals deeper U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict. In a conference call on Thursday, Rhodes told reporters that Obama had decided to provide military support to the Syrian rebels.

The Obama administration, wary of the unpredictability of potential military involvement in Syria, has been under mounting pressures to take more decisive actions, including imposing a no- fly zone in the Middle East country.

Rhodes on Friday noted that imposing a no-fly zone in Syria was "dramatically more difficult and dangerous and costly" than doing so in Libya.

In Libya, "you did not have the same types of air defense system that exists within Syria," he said. "So in that regard, it' s more difficult."

"Frankly, in Syria, when you have the situation where regime forces are intermingled with opposition forces. They're fighting in some instances block by block in cities, that's not a problem you can solve from the air," he added.

"I think people need to understand that the no-fly zone is not some type of silver bullet that is going to stop a very intense and in some respects sectarian conflict that is taking place on the ground." "And so, that's why we feel like the best course of action is to try to strengthen a moderate opposition that can be able to represent the broader Syrian public."

Rhodes said that the United States did not have a national interest in "pursuing a very intense open-ended military engagement through a no-fly zone in Syria at this juncture." He also stressed, however, that Washington was not ruling out options and contingencies.

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