WASHINGTON - The top US military officer deplored the weekend massacre in Syria on Monday and urged the international community to use diplomatic and economic pressure to end the violence there.

"The events in Syria over the weekend are just horrific, atrocious really," General Jack Dempsey said on "CBS This Morning" television program.

Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he expected international pressure to mount on Syria, where the massacre in Houla of 108 civilians, many of them children, drew UN National Security Council condemnation on Sunday.

"I think that diplomatic pressure should always precede any discussions about military options. And that's my job by the way, is options, not policy. So we'll be prepared to provide options if asked to do so," Dempsey said.

President Barack Obama told G8 leaders last week that Syrian President Bashar Assad must leave power. Assad's government has been attacking protesters for 14 months.

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