The Pentagon is readying for the possibility of intervention in Syria,
aiming to halt Syrian President Bashsar Assad's
violent crackdown on protesters, the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday, citing a US military offical.
According to the official, the intervention scenario calls for the establishment of a buffer zone on the Turkish border, in order to receive Syrian refugees. The Red Cross would then provide the civilians humanitarian aid, before NATO crews would arrive from Turkey and join the efforts.
The measure would pave the way for the US to declare an aerial blockade on Syria.
The intercession is to be modeled after NATO's efforts in Kosovo, which brought an end to the Serbian control of the region. NATO's plan of action included prolonged aerial shelling.
The US' diplomatic efforts have yet to yield an effective international resolution that would stop the bloodshed. More than 100 protesters have died over the weekend alone, human rights activists said.
According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Pentagon does not anticipate a change of heart on the part of China or Russia, who have opposed foreign intervention or sanctions against Syria. But the US expects the two nations to join the humanitarian aid efforts, support a ceasefire between the Syrian regime and rebels and send special UN envoys to investigate the developments in the country.
The next step in the reported US Department of Defense plan would be to appoint a team of UN observers to monitor the humanitarian aid, and enter Syria. They would need aerial protection, which would eventually lead to an aerial blockade.
The military official said in the interview that the plan is a cautious one, and takes into account the Syrian air force's advanced capabilities.
In his most forceful words to date on the Syrian crisis, US President Barack Obama
said Friday the US and its allies would use "every tool available" to end the bloodshed by Assad's government.
"It is time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government," Obama said in Washington, adding that it "absolutely imperative for the international community to rally and send a clear message to President Assad that it is time for a transition. It is time for that regime to move on."
As government troops relentlessly shelled rebel-held neighborhoods in the besieged city of Homs, thousands of people in dozens of towns staged anti-regime protests under the slogan: "We will revolt for your sake, Baba Amr," referring to the Homs neighborhood that has become the center of the Syrian revolt.
Opposition groups reported that 103 people were killed on Friday by the regime's forces.