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U.S. not to provide arms to Syrian opposition forces -- White House

WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (KUNA) -- The U.S. decision to not provide arms to forces trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not changed, White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday, when pressed by reporters to explain how the United States plans to help speed the removal of Assad from power.
"We continue to take a hard look at every feasible policy option to evaluate whether or not doing so would advance our goal of hastening an end to the violence and supporting political transition in Syria," Carney said during a briefing. "In other words, we look at all feasible options and evaluate them based on whether or not we believe that goal would be achieved." "We firmly believe that a political solution led by the Syrian people and supported by the international community is the best chance for a stable and democratic Syria," he added. "We do not believe, at this point, that providing arms will promote a political solution." The United States has over time ramped up its assistance to the Syrian people through humanitarian aid and nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, Carney noted.
"We have recognized the Syrian transitional group as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people," he said. "These are steps that demonstrate movement in our policy toward further isolating Assad, further isolating the regime, assisting the opposition. But we do not believe at this point that providing lethal assistance is the right policy." The speech by Assad this week was "evidence of how delusional he is," Carney said. "The proposal he made was nothing more than a desperate attempt to cling to power. And it would only allow the regime to continue its oppression and killing of the Syrian people." The momentum in Syria is with opposition forces and with the Syrian people, he said. "It is clear that as defections continue -- and we have seen a number of them -- and the regime continues to lose control of territory, that Assad cannot restore his control of Syria," Carney said. "The future in Syria does not and will not include Bashar al-Assad. He has lost all legitimacy, as we have said, and he must step aside to enable a political solution that ends the bloodshed and suffering and meets the aspirations of the Syrian people." The United States will continue its support for the Geneva Action Group's framework, which was endorsed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League and the UN General Assembly, he said. "And we will continue our efforts in support of Joint Special Representative (Lakhdar) Brahimi to build international support for the Geneva framework and urge all parties in Syria to take steps toward its implementation to help expedite an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and to bring about the day when the Syrian people can decide their future for themselves," Carney said. (end) rm.mt KUNA 100052 Jan 13NNNN