Panetta urges aggressive international pressure on Syria

June 1, 2012 04:28

ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT - The US military is prepared for any action against Syria that may be necessary, but officials are still focused on more aggressive international pressure to bring about the ouster of President Bashar Assad, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday.

Panetta, speaking to reporters en route to Singapore for a security conference, stopped short of advocating US action without the endorsement of the UN Security Council, but said the international community needed to act more aggressively to obtain Assad's ouster while there was time.

"This is an intolerable situation," Panetta said. "We cannot be satisfied with what is going on. And the international community has got to take further steps to make sure that Assad steps down."

Asked about the possibility of US military action without UN endorsement, Panetta said "I cannot envision that," adding that it was important to have "the kind of support that we need in order to accomplish the mission."

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