BY | June 13, 2013

President Barack Obama assesses role of Iran, Hezbollah in Syria

WASHINGTON, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has two very clear friends in the region — Hezbollah and Iran,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday. “And that ought to tell you everything you need to know about Bashar al-Assad and his tyrannical regime, and the fact that he is calling on outside assistance in the murderous campaign against his own people.” Speaking to reporters traveling aboard Air Force One en route to Boston, where President Barack Obama was scheduled to attend a political event, Carney said U.S. officials have long been concerned about the instability caused by the conflict in Syria and its capacity to spread regionally, “and certainly the participation of Hezbollah and Iran in the effort causes concern. And the President evaluates these developments as he is assessing policy options.”

The situation on the ground continues to worsen with elevated levels of violence with the participation of Hezbollah and Iran, “and the President has made clear that he rules no option out, although he has also made clear that he does not envision a scenario that would lead to putting American boots on the ground in Syria. But setting aside that, he rules no option out, and he is constantly evaluating his policy options.” As he does so, he keeps the focus on which possible policy options would help lead to the ultimate goal (the removal of Assad), “and he wants a rigorous process that assesses policy options based on whether they would lead to that goal or whether they would inadvertently set back progress on achieving that goal,” Carney said.

Syria is an issue of great concern to many of the nations represented at the G8, “and we have had regular conversations with Britain and France and others, the Russians, about what is happening in Syria and the need to take action to bring about a transition there,” Carney said.

Asked if Syria would be a topic at the G8 summit next week, Carney said it is a topic “that we are discussing with our allies regularly as it is, and I certainly would not rule out that being a topic of discussion.” (KUNA)

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