WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) — The recent experience in Libya is helping the United States formulate a response to the crisis in Syria, the U.S. defense secretary said.
NATO enforced a no-fly zone over Libya last year after Moammar Gadhafi’s forces attacked civilian demonstrators opposing his government. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before the House Armed Services Committee that the experience in Libya was shaping the U.S. approach to Syrian.
While acknowledging there were limitations to the use of military force, the defense secretary said “all options” are on the table in Syria.
“In Libya, there was widespread international support in the Arab world and elsewhere, and clear Security Council authorization, for military intervention,” he said in prepared remarks. “No such consensus currently exists regarding Syria.”
He added that the Syrian opposition wasn’t as organized as Libya’s. Outside military intervention, meanwhile, could make the volatile situation worse, he said.
The United Nations and Damascus announced Thursday they reached an agreement for a U.N. monitoring mission that would observe a shaky cease-fire brokered by former U.S. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
“An effective observer team on the ground is vital if the lives of ordinary Syrian families is to slowly return to normal,” a statement issued through Annan’s spokesman read. “The hard part lies ahead, a truly Syrian-led and -owned political dialogue to address the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the Syrian people.”
Panetta added that Washington was committed to supporting the opposition through non-military means.