Mar. 7 - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the U.S. should not take military action against Syria now, although he did not rule it out. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Violence continues to rage in Syria. Amateur video out of Syria shows a building on fire in Idlib. The video, which could not be independently verified by Reuters comes as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta faced some tough questions from Republicans lawmakers over the U.S. pursuing a diplomatic course in Syria. Senator John McCain. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R -ARIZONA) SAYING: "Can you tell us how much longer the killing would have to continue, how many additional civilian lives would have to be lost in order to convince you that military measures of this kind that we are proposing, necessary to end the killing and for ce to leave power...How many more have to die - 10,000 more, 20,000 more - how many more?" (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA SAYING: "I think the question, as you stated yourself Senator, is the effort to try to build an international consensus as to what action we do take. That makes the most sense. What doesn't make sense is to take unilateral action at this point. As Secretary of Defense, before I recommend that we put our sons and daughters in uniform in harm's way, I've got to make very sure that we know what the mission is, I've got to make very sure that we know whether we can achieve that mission, at what price, and whether or not it'll make matters better or worse. The United Nations says more than 7,500 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began a year ago. The Syrian government blames the violence on foreign backed insurgents. U.S. President Barack Obama has said quote... "Ultimately this dictator will fall." But President Bashar-al-Assad can still count on powerful allies such as Russia and China, as well as others including Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters