A defected Syrian soldier holds a rifle and flag 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah )
One reason the United States is hesitant to arm the Syrian opposition is
that "al-Qaida and other extremists are seeking to take advantage of
the situation created" by the unrest in that country, the White House
said on Tuesday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said
Washington's position "that now is not the time to further militarize
the situation in Syria" is related to but not solely dependent on the
extremist and al-Qaida presence there.
He declined, however, to
address US assessments of how many or which terrorist or extremist
groups and individuals are operating in Syria.
Meanwhile, the United States military has developed "detailed plans" to intervene
militarily in Syria, if it is ordered to do so by the White House, CNN
reported on Tuesday.
The report comes three weeks after the US-based cable news outlet said
the Pentagon was beginning to prepare
such plans. It emphasized that
the contingency planning had no significance regarding the likelihood of
a political decision being made to intervene against Syrian President
Bashar Assad's regime.
One option being considered, CNN reported, was the options available to
the US military in facilitating humanitarian assistance currently being
discussed in international forums.
On the other end of the contingency spectrum, it added, is the question
of what would happen if the entire Assad regime collapsed and leaves a
complete vacuum in the country. The White House is reportedly concerned
about the fate of chemical weapons it believes Syria possesses.