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Military action on Syria would be a mistake: Obama

March 07, 2012 02:55 IST

United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday described the violence in Syria as "heartbreaking," but warned that unilateral military action against the Syrian regime would be a mistake.

"What's happening in Syria is heartbreaking and outrageous, and what you've seen is the international community mobilises against the Assad regime. It's not a question of if Assad leaves, it's a question of when. He has lost the legitimacy of his people," Obama said at a White House news conference.

"The actions that he is now taking against his own people are inexcusable, and the world community has said so in a more or less unified voice," Obama said.

"On the other hand, for us to take military action unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake," he said.

A day earlier, three top American Senators lead by Senator John McCain had called for air strike against the authoritarian Syrian regime.

But Obama cautioned the situation was not the same as in Libya, when the United States used its air force to back a NATO no-fly zone.

"What happened in Libya was we mobilised the international community, had a UN Security Council mandate, had the full cooperation of the region, Arab states, and we knew that we could execute very effectively in a relatively short period of time. This is a much more complicated situation (in Syria)," Obama said.

"So what we've done is to work with key Arab states, key international partners to come together and to mobilise and plan how do we support the opposition, how do we provide humanitarian assistance, how do we continue the political isolation, how do we continue the economic isolation," he said.

"We are going to continue to work on this project with other countries. And it is my belief that ultimately this dictator will fall, as dictators in the past have fallen," he added.

"But the notion that the way to solve every one of these problems is to deploy our military -- that hasn't been true in the past and it won't be true now. We've got to think through what we do through the lens of what's going to be effective, but also what's critical for US security interests," he said. 

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