President Barack Obama said Monday that it is important to resolve the ongoing conflict in Syria without outside military intervention.
In an interview witn NBC's "Today" show, Obama said that not every situation allows for the type of military action the US and allies took in Libya, which led to the removal of Muammar Gaddafi last year.
The president said that a negotiated solution in Syria is possible. He defended his administration's handling of the violence there, saying the US has been "relentless" in demanding that President Bashar Assad leave power.
However, an Obama-supported resolution at the UN Security Council was vetoed this weekend by Russia and China. The resolution would have backed Arab League plan aimed at moving Assad in the direction of a peaceful transition to democracy in his violence-wracked country.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has closed the US Embassy in Damascus and pulled all American diplomats out of Syria.
Officials said Ambassador Robert Ford and other diplomats left Syria on Monday. It is the most dramatic US move so far after 11 months of a violent crackdown on dissent by Assad's regime.
The State Department warned last month it would close the embassy unless Assad's government stepped up its protection. It cited concerns about the safety of personnel and recent car bombs.
The UN says Assad's crackdown has killed more than 5,400 people since March. The revolt began with mostly peaceful protests, but armed rebels are now increasingly fighting the regime.
The Obama administration has long demanded that Assad step down. Officials insist his regime's demise is inevitable.
Yitzhak Benhorin, in Washington, contributed to this report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop