20:26 GMT +3 hours26 November 2014
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No Direct U.S. Intervention in Syria - Panetta

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It would be wrong for the United States to intervene in Syria on its own, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday.

It would be wrong for the United States to intervene in Syria on its own, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday.

“Direct intervention by the United States… would be a serious mistake,” Panetta told reporters.

“If the international community decides that that's a step that the international community would like to move forward, then obviously we would be part of that. But absent that kind of broad support, I think for the United States to do it would be a mistake,” he said.

On Tuesday, the emir of Qatar called for Arab military intervention in Syria.

The Syrian conflict has claimed up to 20,000 lives according to estimates by various Syrian opposition groups. The UN estimates the death toll at over 18,000 people. The Syrian authorities say 8,000 were killed.

The West is pushing for President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster while Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in Syria, saying that the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed.

“It's pretty clear that at this point, the most effective thing that the international community can do is to continue to bring both diplomatic and economic pressure on Assad to step down,” Panetta said.

“We are doing what we can with regards to the humanitarian crisis and trying to provide and meet the humanitarian needs that are increasing. We continue to monitor the CBW sites which concern us and others in the region to make sure that they continue to be secure,” he said.

Panetta added that those are “the most effective ways” to address the situation in Syria.