WH defends Syria policy amid violence

The White House on Tuesday defended President Obama's Syria policy amid deepening violence in the country and a stalemate in peace talks.

White House press secretary Jay Carney conceded that "there's no question that there has not been a great amount of progress" in striking a peace deal between the Syrian regime and opposition forces.


But he insisted that the administration was not undertaking a new review of its Syria policy and said the administration "absolutely" believes that "negotiated political settlement," and not military force, is "the only path forward for Syria."

"There's not a new review of policy underway, because the assessments of where we are and the options that we have available to us to get where we need to be is ongoing," Carney said.

Carney's daily press briefing was dominated with questions about the president's Syria policy, following a week in which Obama admitted to "enormous frustration" over the "crumbling" conditions in the country.

At a weekend retreat that included a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, Obama said that the United States and its allies were "going to have to solve the underlying problem" of violence perpetuated by the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

"There will be some intermediate steps that we can take to apply more pressure to the Assad regime, and we're going to be continuing to work with all the parties concerned to try to move forward on a diplomatic solution," Obama said.

A senior administration official said the pair discussed a "wide range of policy tools and options" to assist opposition efforts.

But the White House offered little clarity in what those options might be or how the administration might proceed.

"I don't have specific options to itemize that I can say are being considered, beyond saying that we are always considering all plausible options when it comes to advancing our goals in this terrible conflict," Carney said.

The White House did say that it was still confident that a deal struck with the Assad regime to turn over its chemical weapons would strike dividends, even though the Syrian government had "blown some deadlines on the transport and delivery of its chemical weapons supplies."

"The regime is still committed to ridding itself of those supplies, and the Russia is on the hook for making sure that as the regime's significant ally, that those chemical weapons are — and the supplies are delivered and the regime is fully rid of chemical weapons as part of that agreement," Carney said.