Unmanned U.S. military and intelligence drones are flying over Syria to monitor developments in the country torn by civil strife, NBC reported on Sunday, referring to Pentagon officials.
“A good number of American drones are operating in the skies of Syria, monitoring the Syrian military's attacks against opposition forces and innocent civilians alike,” the TV channel said.
Pentagon officials say this surveillance is not in preparation for U.S. military intervention. The U.S. administration hopes to use visual evidence and intercepts of Syrian government and military communications to “make the case for a widespread international response."
The U.S. administration has held some discussion about possible humanitarian missions in Syria but “U.S. officials fear that those missions could not be carried out without endangering those involved and would almost certainly draw the United States into a military role in Syria,” the TV channel said.
The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a non-binding resolution condemning Syria’s authorities for human rights violations and calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. In the 193-member Assembly, 137 countries voted for the resolution and 12 against with 17 abstentions.
Russia and China voted against the resolution, which was similar to the one the two countries vetoed on February 4 in the UN Security Council.
At least 5,400 people have been killed in the Syrian government's 11-month crackdown on protesters, according to the UN. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.