March 20, 2013

U.S. commander: Contingency plans under way for Syria

Donna Cassata and Richard Lardner / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

After Assad falls, Syria could end up like the Balkans, Stavridis told the Armed Services panel.

"We saw in the Balkans 100,000 killed, 1 million people, 2 million people pushed across borders, (and) two significant wars, one in Bosnia, Herzegovina, one in Serbia, Kosovo," Stavridis said. "I think, unfortunately, that's probably the future in Syria. It's going to be after the Assad regime falls. I think, there's going to be every potential for a great deal of revenge killing, interreligious conflict between various segments of the population, and it's very difficult to see the pieces of Syria going back together again very easily."

The violent, unending war has prompted some in Congress to offer legislation and demand greater action by the Obama administration. But a war-weary American public has been slow to embrace many of the efforts.

In the latest proposal, Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., offered a bipartisan measure that would provide non-lethal aid to vetted Syrian opposition groups battling the Assad regime, such as body armor and communications equipment.

Casey and Rubio left open the possibility of arming the rebels at a later date.

"Down the road we may make another determination," Casey said when asked about arming the rebels.


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