Joint Chiefs Chairman: US Military Intervention in Syria Possible
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Fox News that atrocities committed by the Syrian government may well trigger United States military intervention.
The Assad regime has been accused of turning heavy weaponry upon its own citizens, resulting in countless deaths of peaceful protestors. The latest incident occurred over the weekend in the town of Houla, with a death toll totaling roughly 108 civilians, including 49 children.
The Syrian government has denied responsibility for the massacre, but the U.N. Security Council maintains that the attack “involved a series of government artillery and tank shellings on a residential neighborhood.”
A non-binding statement was formulated by the U.N.S.C. during an emergency three hour session called to address the attack, and was subsequently read aloud following the close of the meeting:
The Security Council condemned in the strongest possible terms the killings, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children and the wounding of hundreds more in the village of [Houla], near Homs, in attacks that involved a series of government artillery and tank shellings on a residential neighborhood.
The Security Council also condemned the killing of civilians by shooting at close range and by severe physical abuse. Such outrageous use of force against civilian population constitutes a violation of applicable international law and of the commitments of the Syrian Government under United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
Sarah Crowe, director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), expressed her horror: “This outrageous crime against such young children who have no part in these battles points to a new urgency in finding solutions to the Syrian conflict. Such a massacre cannot go unpunished.”
Kofi Annan, the UN envoy to Syria, echoed Crowe’s sentiments, saying that “those responsible for these brutal crimes must be held to account.” Annan has been actively working towards a peaceful solution to the Syrian violence for over a year, but today warned that the murder of hundreds of civilians constituted “an appalling moment with profound consequences.”
Even Russia, longtime stalwart ally of the Assad government, condemned the actions of the Syrian state. “The government bears the main responsibility for what is going on,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Any government in any country bears responsibility for the security of its citizens.”
The United Nations estimates that the Assad regime has been responsible for the deaths of approximately 9,000 civilian protestors since the beginning of the uprising against the current Syrian government, some 15 months ago.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Dempsey emphasized that although no one wants to engage in further military conflict because of the uncertain outcome, the possibility of military intervention is growing increasingly likely:
“You’ll always find military leaders to be somewhat cautious about the use of force, because we’re never entirely sure what comes out on the other side. But that said, it may come to a point with Syria because of the atrocities.”